“Back In My Day”

High School Now Versus the 80’s


Sharon Palisi

Need More Hairspray: Sharon Palisi and her friends at their Senior Cotillion, 1989.

             High School now versus the 80s, how has it changed? When talking about school to parents, does the response, “well back in my day” ever come up? This response may be laughable, however, there really was a strong difference between now and back then. 

             One of the biggest differences between life now and life in the 80s is technology. Back then, most people did not have cell phones or internet. They had to go to libraries to look up information.

             Communicating with one another has also changed significantly. Getting in touch with friends was as simple as sending a quick text. Invented in 1921, beepers also known as pagers, were everywhere in the 80s. Most would beep or vibrate to let you know someone wants to get in touch with you. 

             Richard Stroffolino, who was a teen during the 80s said, “I had a beeper and you would be out and someone would beep you, a number would pop up and then you would go to the nearest telephone booth and call that number.” Beepers were considered easy to use, lightweight, and had a long battery life. Negative usage of the beepers was that they only received numbers, there was no transmitter inside. 

             Even in today’s society beepers are still around as in use at hospitals because of the no-zone for cell phones. In the U.S, it’s estimated that about 90% of hospitals continue to use beepers in their institutions, as it allows for  improved communication among doctors. 

             Today phones and the internet are an essential part of everyday life. Social media has completely transformed how we connect with friends and family and online shopping has made it possible to buy anything from clothes to accessories to furniture. Social media has connected us in ways that were unimaginable in the 80s.

             80s fashion was all about big hair, flashy, bright colors and bold prints. Clothes were designed to make a statement and to be fun. People dressed up for school, just because that’s how it was, not because it was game day. There were so many trends from preppy, athletic, punk rock, colorful neons to hard rock with leather jackets. Many high school boys had long hair mimicking the classic rock bands of the 80s. There were many fashion choices in the 80s, many of which would represent the type of music you liked or the “group” you fit into.

             In today’s society, fashion is much more monolithic with most people dressing for comfort in sweats and sweatshirts and others in ripped jeans and sweaters. Athletic wear is a popular choice for both men and women as people both young and old are looking for comfort and functionality. 

             During the 80s, the music transitioned into technology. Artists adventured into autotune, synthesizers, and programmed drums. This is a shift from previous decades that were defined by a much more raw and unedited sound. Music videos were always trending, starring pop artists like Micheal Jackson, Duran Duran and Madonna. 

             In retrospect, people are still listening to 80s music. Bands like Queen, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and others still play on the radio. Shows like Stranger Things bring back popular 80s songs such as Running up that hill by Kate Bush. 80s Music never goes out of style!

             Renting movies became a bit of a sensation in the 80s. Movies nights were also much more involved than they are now, it was a process. Movies like Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, and Top Gun were box office hits. Sharon Palisi, Isabella Palisi’s mom states, “Picking out a movie involved going to the video store and picking one out and that usually took time. You had hundreds of videos to choose from. There were so many different movies sections and genres. You had horror, rom coms, action, foreign films etc.. Then once you picked a movie you had to see if they even had it in”

Hangout spot outside of Foran High School: Kids gathered on Foran stairs in between classes or lunch, 1988. (Joseph A. Foran High School 1989 yearbook)

             The 80s were a unique era, and looking back on it can be a fun nostalgia trip. However, the world has changed a lot since then. Technology has advanced at an incredible pace, and the internet has transformed the way we communicate and access information.  The culture has become more diverse and fragmented, and politics has become more polarized. While the 80s had its own charm, the world we live in now is equally fascinating and exciting. The 80s will always forever remain historic.