growtingtoaA recent survey asked 20- to 60-year-olds what decade they thought was the best to live in, or wish they had lived in.  Ranging from 1900’s to the 2000’s the majority of decades selected for best decade were from the 1970s to the 2000s.  Two things about the results were particularly striking societal commentaries. First, across the board all respondents said that how they experienced life went all downhill after 2010.  One participant summed it all up as “it sucked”.  But more interestingly, 20 somethings overwhelmingly cited the ’80s as the decade they wished to have lived in.  Despite shoulder pads, glam rock, the age of greed, and yuppies, nearly all the 20-year-olds wished they had lived in the 1980’s.

Surprisingly enough, one of the main reasons for an overall thumbs down on post 2010 life was increasing presence and usen of the internet.  Many yearned for real friendships within a close-knit group of friends, in-person social interactions, and sharing experiences firsthand with others.  They wanted a sense of feeling that they were all going through meaningful time period of teen hood together.  It was a unified youth culture compared to the fragmented youth culture of today.  For them, the 1980’s exemplified the collective growing up experience that they yearned for in film, music, 1980 TV shows like MTV and Friends, and stories they heard through those who had grown up in the 80’s.

In fact, these 20-somethings had sense of loss.   This age group felt that they had been robbed of what their teenage experience was supposed to have been like.  From their perspective teens in the 1980’s experienced an important period in life together, and it was a life that was far more fun, exciting, interesting, and memorable than the lives they knew. The 1980’s was a time when they were free from the internet, life was simpler, people were nicer, and the music was better. 

Here are the rankings for the best decade to live in from 1900s – 2020s accompanied by some survey taker comments that capture their overall impressions and sentiments.

#1.  The 1980s

Mixed tapes! I loved listening to the American top 40 and recording all my favorite songs”.

“There were jobs and life was simple. Helping one another was the normal and we didn’t believe in bullying”. 

“The 80s seemed such a fun and prosperous time.”

“…no internet and no chat rooms. People socialized outside. They went to parties and evening dances. We just don’t have that…”

“…from what I’ve seen in movies and read in biographies, the 80s were the best in the US.”

“I was born in the wrong generation. I love all the music from the 80s, like nervana and led zeplin and pink floid.   I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN A TEEN IN THE 80’s!

  1. The 1990s

“It was probably the most peaceful of any decade in the last 100 years. Everyone had money and everyone was (relatively! ) happy. We had mobile phones and the Internet but they hadn’t taken over our lives yet and we got great movies and T.V. shows”. 


  1. The 2000s

“… grew up in the 2000’s, it was great. Technology was not abused, and it was lighter. There wasn’t so much pressure. It was like a prolonged 20th century.”

“… there was a hopeful outlook for the future, particularly with the progress being made in science, technology and egalitarianism.”

“Enough technology that we could find out things, it wasn’t until the 2010s that the internet completely ruined everything.”


  1. The 1970s

“The best music was spawned in the 70’s.  Musicians actually played instruments we used record players and not digital music.”

“People seemed very casual in the 70s.” 

 “The 70s had THE BEST cars. You can’t say there’s anything cooler than a bright red 1973 Plymouth ‘Hemi Cuda with yellow flames and slick tires with stripes on the sidewalls.” 

The Vietnam War ended. A new realism in movies, T.V., music, and comedy. It was the 60s dressed in a Leisure Suit, in a good way.


  1. The 1960s

Great Music and hippie culture. – The Beatles (Need I say more).”

First Wave feminism and less of a class based society in Britain.

“…we may of been poorer but life had a cadence to it.”


  1. The 2010s

“…got broken by the information overload, fakeness and health crisis of the 2020s.”

“I say that any decade before 2010 is a good decade.”

“Kids don’t act like kids anymore instead they act like they’re a bunch of adults with boyfriends and iPhone 6s, the 2010s sucks.”


  1. The 1950s

“1950’s was an amazing decade! WWII was over and US citizens benefited greatly from this victory. The dollar stretched far & wide, the cars looked tough and were super affordable.

“As a white man, the ’50s may have been the best decade to grow up in. As a black man, the ’50s easily ranks at the bottom of the list.”

“Cool music and fashion but not the best time to live in if you are a person of color, LGBTQ+, or even a woman.”


  1. The 1920s

“1920s! The time when everybody wore suits and dresses, people had so much class. They were very polite. Like bro. I’d give second to the 70s and third to the 90s. Then the fifties.

It was all about the party back then. Murders? What murders? Oh, yeah I forgot about the gangsters and polio. At least we were classy.

I agree, it was classy. The flappers were pretty cool too. I wish people were as elegant nowadays


  1. The 1900s

Far from the best but this decade looked better than the horror that was the 1930s or WWI throughout the 1910s ( 1910-1913 and 1919 looked okay though ).


  1. The 1940s

“Wartime decade in the history. Compares to the worst decade of 2010s or so and 2020.”

“Yeah, probably not the best time period to live in if you were German, Jewish, Russian, British, Polish or Chinese…”

What is it about the 80’s that those 20-somethings perceive they missed out on that was so important?  What is it that they are really yearning for?  It’s not just 20-year-olds either.  People in other age groups, although not as many, also said the 80s was the best decade to live in.  While there was a wide range of respondent age and decade periods, all participants had something in common.  Their choice of decade was driven from the perspective of a teenager.  Given the nature of that time of transition from kid to man and womanhood, it’s no surprised that our teenage experience becomes deeply rooted in our psyche.   





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