Why Being A Teenager In The Early 2000s Was SO Much Easier

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
When we were teens, Snapchat and Instagram weren't even ideas yet — for some of us, Facebook was barely a thing, either. As much as we love these apps now, we are so glad we didn't have to document our entire adolescent years on social.

The idea of tech-free teenage years might be horrifying to members of Gen Z. But for millennials, there are definitely advantages to not having had access to smartphones and social media when we were younger.

We asked Refinery29 staffers what made them happy about growing up with turn-of-the-century tech, and the results were varied. Some people were glad that they learned how to get around town without relying on GPS and map apps. Others were happy they focused their efforts on real-life friendships, rather than online personas. And a lot of us are just happy those awkward phases were never immortalized online.

"I still can't help but feel a bit nervous every time I see a 9-year old with an iPhone," admits Landon Peoples, the fashion editorial assistant. "It makes me worried for the youth of today, but thankfully, I get a feeling they're taking advantage of it and using it for good — for the most part, at least."

How kids and teens are using their phones these days is certainly a lot different from the way we grew up. Click through to see all the reasons we're glad we were iPhone-less adolescents.
1 of 7
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"Two words: read receipts.

"The inevitability of someone ignoring a text while having their read receipts turned on would have caused SO MANY fights in my group of girlfriends, particularly since at any given point there were at least two people who were kind of fighting with each other. It would have been the three-way-call scene from Mean Girls, but in real life and with texts." — Lilli
2 of 7
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"I feel like I knew street directions better while driving because I wasn't relying on Google Maps or a navigation system in the car, just my good ol' brain! My mind was definitely sharper! Also just being more physically active, talking to people in real time, in person..." — Juliana
3 of 7
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"As a teen/young human who had two LiveJournal accounts (they are both still live; I visit them sometimes for a laugh...), a DeadJournal account (to read and comment on my darker friends' posts), a MySpace, and two AIM handles — I think adding more avenues to explore/create/experiment with internet personalities may have seeped too far into my in-person social life… I would have been more anxious about in-person interactions with peers who were not necessarily in my direct friend group who I would have known had seen my internet self." — Mary
4 of 7
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"If I'd been a more tech-heavy teen, I probably wouldn't have chosen to live in a tent in the desert with little to no connectivity during my gap year after high school." — Brandon
5 of 7
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"I love that I know how to talk to humans in real life — and I totally attribute that to growing up in an age where we (humans!) still had to physically speak to each other most of the time. As a recruiter, it's SO important to have those kind of communication skills...and as the hiring pool gets younger and younger, I recognize instantly who grew up in the tech-heavy era, and who did not." — Lauren
6 of 7
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"I'm so glad that hashtags weren't around, because I would have used the most terrifying ones without shame: #FutureMrsEveryCrush #KissMeAtHomecoming #AbercrombieMoose

"Also relieved because my most embarrassing/awkward years haven't been thoroughly documented on the internet since day one. Looking back on the past would be so much more cringe-worthy if I had done this." — Kriti
7 of 7
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"In the late '90s and early 2000s, skinny eyebrows were in, and one time, I tweezed the crap out of my brows. My mom (thankfully) realized I'd never want photo evidence of this phase of my tween years. But had I had an iPhone, I'm sure I would have instagrammed and snapchatted my handiwork long before her motherly logic could step in. I'm so glad that awkwardness was never documented on the internet." — Christina

More from Tech


R29 Original Series