What Do You Miss Most?

Bay Alarm Medical

August 7, 2017

Self-driving cars. Virtual reality. Trips to space. Printable food (what?!). It’s hard to deny it: We’re already living in the future, even if it doesn’t look exactly like we thought it would.

When it comes to the speed of technology today, we’ve all said it: “when I was your age,” or “back in my day.” It’s easy for baby boomers (and yes, even millennials) to wax nostalgic about the past when things are changing so much in the present.

We asked 1,000 people of different ages what they missed the most about the past and their childhood. We even asked what they thought about children growing up in this new technologically advanced world. Curious who’s got the most positive – and most cynical – perspectives? Read on to find out.     

Taking a Trip to the Past and Present

We asked people to think back to a time in which they felt most nostalgic or wanted to experience for the first time.

For baby boomers, over 15 percent dreamed of revisiting the 1960s. When a new car cost less than $3,000, and a gallon of gas was a quarter, the ’60s may have been considered a more simple time. While war did loom over those who lived through this decade, imagine getting a chance to walk with Martin Luther King Jr., seeing the first episode of “Star Trek” live on TV, or watching Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the moon.  

For Gen Xers, the ’80s was their decade of choice. From the cult classic film “The Goonies” to the first Pac-Man game, the 1980s were full of iconic moments Gen Xers said they wanted to experience one more time.

However, millennials were just as happy to stay in this century as they were to experience or relive the previous one. Most told us they only wanted to go as far back as the 1990s. Millennials were also the most likely to be happy in the present compared to other generations.

It’s understandable that some people would feel nostalgic for the past. In today’s world, metal detectors in public schools aren’t unusual, the debate about arming school teachers for defense purposes is a real conversation, and an increasing number of children are living in poverty.

Gen Xers (36 percent) were the most likely to say growing up while they were children was better than it is now. From safety concerns to debates around the education process in general, roughly a third of every generation believed growing up was better in the past than it is today.

Still, over 40 percent of millennials believed growing up today was better. From technological advancements to a fresh perspective on children’s toys, being a kid in today’s world certainly has its perks.

When America Was Most Great

Thinking back to a better time in American history also means thinking back to a different era in politics. We asked our participants which U.S. presidents they missed the most.

President Barack Obama may have just gotten out of office, but millennials already feel nostalgic for him. From fist-bumping with the FLOTUS to his two terms of historical moments, young people were decisive in getting Obama elected. The president they missed the most, however, was Bill Clinton.

Baby boomers felt the most nostalgic for Ronald Reagan. Perhaps this is what inspired President Trump to run on a similar campaign slogan (and even trademark it).

Sources of Nostalgia

We’re all capable of feeling those sweeps of nostalgia from time to time – thoughts of ice cream trucks driving through the neighborhood, a game of stickball after school, or (for the younger crowd) reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” long after you were supposed to be asleep.

Survey respondents were most nostalgic when they listened to music (24 percent), visited certain places (19 percent), or watched old movies (18 percent). Fortunately, nostalgia has been found to be beneficial. For instance, it can remind us how meaningful our life is and help us feel more connected.

The Present Is a Present

Today, we’ve made incredible gains in technology, gender and race equality, and LGBT rights over the past half-century (though we still have much to learn). While the generations had clear differences on views toward non-traditional families, technological advancements in the automobile industry were all highly rated an average of 7.0.

The interaction between different races was rated, on average, around an eight by all generations, signifying an overall acceptance of people who come from different backgrounds and cultures. It is also worth noting minorities and women are now better able to secure jobs in the workforce than older counterparts could just a few decades ago. The same sentiment can be applied to same-sex and nontraditional families, who are now more widely accepted than they once were.

However, some Americans weren’t so optimistic, as many believed we still have a lot of work to do regarding access to birth control and the number of nontraditional families in our country.

Optimism, Pessimism, and Uncertainty

When it came to thoughts about the future, Gen Xers had the most pessimistic outlook on things to come. More than 40 percent said they didn’t feel favorably about the direction of the future, and less than a third said they felt optimistic about the shape of things to come.

Baby boomers were the most likely to admit feeling unsure. Whether that’s a result of today’s political climate or the challenges and concerns facing children and students, more than a third of baby boomers weren’t confident about the future.

Millennials, on the other hand, were the most likely to feel positive about the future. More than a third said they were optimistic and were the least likely of any generation to say they didn’t think good things were happening.  

Not-so-Different Perceptions of Ambition and Responsibility

Next, we asked respondents how they felt about children today and how they might be different than when Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials were children.

Surprisingly, Gen Xers  Baby Boomers or Millennials’ views of children are almost entirely aligned. More than a third of respondents believe children are growing up faster while one-fifth things that they are less ambitious.

Feel Safe in Today’s Future

Regardless of if life was better in the past or today’s kids are worse off, there’s no denying that things are changing and advancements in technology are a big part of it.   

When it comes to feeling safe in our present time, let technology work for you. At BayAlarmMedical.com, we believe in protecting the most important things in life – family, health and independence. We pride ourselves in providing the best senior life-saving alert systems in the nation. Our clients are fully protected with industry-leading technology and backed by one of the nation’s most reliable 24-hour medical alarm emergency call centers.


We surveyed 1,000 people (334 millennials, 333 Gen Xers, and 333 baby boomers) and asked them about their sentiments toward the past and present.

Fair Use Statement

If reading this project made you feel nostalgic for times past, and you want to share it with someone from then or now, we welcome you to do so for noncommercial purposes. However, we politely request that you please link back here so that credit can be properly attributed to those that worked on this project.