Throwback Moments: This is How Old Gen Z Pop Culture References Are

Throwback Moments: This is How Old Gen Z Pop Culture References Are


These are the signs that Gen Z is old enough to feel old. In the emergence of social media, these pop culture references are nostalgic to look back on

As the first generation born in the digital age, there’s an archive set up for us from the moment we stepped out in the world. With a digital record so easily accessible, it prompts an unending stream of memories—and this generation is hardwired for that kind of nostalgia. In navigating the world of technology and the disillusioned setback of the pandemic, it’s almost impossible for Gen Z to believe that 2017 was seven years ago when it feels just three. So can you believe these pop culture moments are this old?

RELATED: A Compilation of Girlhood Moments That Make Us Love Being a Girl

16 years ago: The world was divided by Team Edward and Team Jacob

The phenomenon of Twilight left an imprint on society and culture in the vampire-werewolf-fanatic world of pre-teens, teens, and young adults almost 16 years ago, and people are still talking about it (and gasping at that Breaking Dawn Part 2 plot twist. If you know, you know.) The Twilight saga, no matter how much you hate it, has influenced the direction of fan culture and romantic fantasy. (And it’s Team Edward, by the way.)

14 years ago: Hoedown Throwdown was the dance choreography

Miley Cyrus’ Hannah Montana movie was also a cultural reset—with songs like The Climb and Crazier by Taylor Swift hitting the charts. But memorizing the dance was crucial for every teenager.

14 years ago: Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream came out

Signing about our made-up The One That Got Away just felt so freeing at the time. The imaginary guy with the Mustang and the tattoos? Yeah. That.

11 years ago: Dystopian fims were peak cinema

The masterpieces of The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent were the peak of the cinematic genre back then, which is why when A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and Percy Jackson’s remake surged into the media, the fandoms were revived. Though these movies aren’t clogging theaters, they were a full-blown film fad about a decade ago: in 2012, The Hunger Games frontlined Jennifer Lawrence, ushering in three Divergent movies starring Shailene Woodley, and The Maze Runner series starring Dylan O’Brien.

10 years ago: One Direction broke up

For all my fellow die-hard Directioners, raise your hand if you’re also still waiting for the reunion that might never come. As one of the biggest boy bands of all time, One Direction became a cultural phenomenon after five studio albums and four world tours—their name on perfumes, beddings, jewelry, jackets, and more. However, at the end of 2015, One Direction eventually announced a ‘hiatus’ following Zayn Malik’s departure from the band in 2013. Now, the boys are doing their own thing, Zayn Malik and Liam Payne have kids, Niall Horan was a judge on The Voice, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles are experimenting with their music, and we’re still crossing our fingers for that reunion. But growing up with them makes this a little nostalgic, don’t you think?

10 years ago: Taylor Swift’s Blank Space lyrics was on every Twitter bio

When Blank Space came out 10 years ago, we were in high school and all our Twitter bio’s said the same thing: ‘’Cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.’ It was such a good paradox, we thought we were doing something life-changing putting that in our biographies.

7 years ago: Snapchat filters were cool

The power of the Snapchat filters saw its time back in 2016—especially the perky-eared long-tongued dog and the flower crown filters or ‘lenses’. It was meaningless, silly, and so much fun. There wasn’t a celebrity or a friend that hasn’t posted a story to those filters.

9 years ago: Everyone joined the Ice Bucket Challenge

The summer of 2014 saw the internet quite literally getting drenched with ice-cold water—the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was the largest social media movement in medical history. This viral sensation raised $115 million in six weeks and boosted critical awareness for a fatal disease. 

9 years ago: The Fault In Our Stars made a whole generation bawl in the cinema

Author John Green saw his characters come to life on the big screen also in 2014 with an adaptation starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. This set the precedent for a new era of romantic realistic fiction—the rise of the ‘sick teens can still fall in love’ plot. Plus, the famous Okay? Okay. were that era’s best expression of love. 

Bonus: Justin Bieber is 30 years old

Gen Z: We grew up with this kid. We grew up with his smash hits Baby, I Just Need Somebody to Love, One Less Lonely Girl, and so much more. Recently, Beliebers even expressed their shock that the artist reached the milestone age of 30 last March 1, having broken onto the pop scene so young. 

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