15 Hard-To-Believe Facts About Life In The 1980s From Someone Who Lived Through It

1.Schools in most places could legally discipline students by hitting them…and many did!

a white paddle

2.Speaking of school, if you needed to write a report, there was no researching it online. You had to get up off your butt, go down to the library, and find books...either with the librarian's help or using the Dewey Decimal System (a complicated system to find books seen below that all kids were taught in school). If it sounds like a pain in the ass, it was!

A library
u/JQuest7575 / Via

3.Smoking was pretty much allowed everywhere…even in restaurants. In fact, most restaurants had two sections — one for smokers and one for non-smokers — so when you approached the hostess, they would generally greet you with “Smoking or non?”

People in a restaurant

4.There was just so much smoking in general, including cigarette vending machines out in the open.

Cigarette vending machines

5.There was a phone number you'd call (767-2676 or “POP-CORN,” at least in California) to find out what time it was.

someone holding a landline phone

6.Along similar lines, you couldn't just google a number on your phone, so if you wanted to call, say, a restaurant, you had to either look it up in the phone book or call "information" where an operator gave you the number.

a woman using a phone
Dennis Hallinan / Getty Images

7.But the worst part of ONLY having a landline phone to communicate was that — when you wanted to talk to your friend or, gasp, crush — you had to dial their number and likely talk to their mom or dad first. Gah!

A young boy talking on the phone

"Uh, hello, Mr. O'Ryan. Could I p-p-please speak with — voice breaks — Stephanie."

Comstock / Getty Images

8.Speaking of kids talking to adults, back in the '80s, you absolutely addressed adults as Mr. or Mrs./Ms. and their last name. Nowadays, kids tend to address adults by their first name.

"Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds...not Doug and Tammy"

As a dad, I don't mind my kids' friends calling me "Mike." But, man, that sure wouldn't have gone over well back in the day!

Jena Ardell / Getty Images

9.Going to the movies in the '80s was VERY different than it is today. First, you couldn't just look up showtimes online, so you either found them in the newspaper (like below) or called the theater to hear a pre-recorded message that seemed to take FOREVER, especially when your movie was at the end of the call.

Movie listings in the paper

10.But — worse yet! — you couldn't buy a ticket or pick your seat online either! You had to drive to the theater — with no guarantee the movie wouldn't be sold out — and wait in line to buy your ticket. If you managed to snag a ticket, you then had to hustle to the screening room and grab a decent seat so you didn't get stuck in the first two rows because seats were first come, first serve.

People outside a movie theater

11.There was massive anti-drug hysteria in the '80s. First Lady Nancy Reagan led a "Just Say No!" campaign — complete with celebs forcefully telling us how dangerous drugs were — and it convinced me I was constantly at risk of a shady drug dealer approaching and "pushing" drugs on me. Like, it was a real fear! Never mind that I was 8 and broke.

"Illegal drugs are everywhere."
DEA / Via

12.No phones/internet meant that kids spent most of their time playing outside...often doing things their parents would NOT approve of. This meme really says it all:

"Your Mom thought you were riding your bike around the block for 8 hours..."
u/MikeyNapoli / Via

13.Young people today have thousands of photos and videos of their lives on their phone, but '80s kids had way, WAY fewer photos of their lives. Why? Because getting a photo was a hassle. Film was expensive, you had to get someone to drive you to the photo development booth so they could process and print the photos (which cost MORE money), and then you had to come back later to pick up your photos...most of which were blurry or poorly framed!

An old Polaroid camera

14.The mall was the place to be in the '80s. Once there you could browse new toys and fashions, listen to music at record stores, talk to was basically the internet of its time!

Stores in the mall
u/AxelNoir / Via

15.Speaking of '80s kids going to the mall, it blows my mind that my parents would be like, "Meet me in front of the Sears at exactly 6 p.m." and then have to just go on faith that their kid would be there five hours later, with no way to track or communicate with them until then!

A mall parking lot

What else do you remember about life in the '80s that Gen Z'ers would never believe? Let us know in the comments below and it could end up in a future BuzzFeed post!