From the BitterBenzoac Era to the Bitter Twitter Era

My bridge from the younger generation to the older isn't the most stable.

My bridge covering the gap from the younger generation of bitterness to the older generation of bitterness is suspect at best.

I have lived in 40 different years, 5 different decades, two different centuries and 2 separate millenniums.  Guess what though, who cares?  It’s not the years of bitter experience that allows me to be the unique voice of bitterness to youth of today, and the “more experienced” generations.  I am the bitter bridge that spans the gaps between the two because two unfortunate things.  The time I was born, and the time when I went to college.  You need an explanation?  Sure.  Here you go.

I was born and grew up in the Pre-Bitterbenzoic era, where black, white and grey were the only colors.  If you don’t believe me, check the photo of me as a baby (I don’t have one, you’re on your own there).  Only black, white and grey.  You want further proof?  Find out how to time travel, possess me as a baby and look at the world from my perspective.  I’ll give you a minute…. Okay. Got it?  See any colors? I didn’t think so.

So what does college have to with anything?  When I started college in 1991, phones were unique gadgets with cords that allowed you to make a phone call.  In college, that came in handy for things like calling you parents when you were 800 miles away, or calling your boss to tell them that you were faking sick for the 5th time.  The best feature of the phone was the lack of caller ID, which made stalking girls easier. But on the other hand, when the phone rang it could have been the President of the United States, your mom, or your idiot neighbor playing a prank.  That made it really hard to answer the phone like a jerk.

In 1998, phones did things besides make phone calls.  What that was, I had no idea.

In 1998, phones did things besides make phone calls. What that was, I had no idea.

By the time I ended college in 1998, phones were not only cordless, but they could be taken anywhere and they started having features on them, besides allowing you to make a phone call.  Caller ID, voicemail, and even screens with things on them.   In other words, it took away almost all of my excuses to avoid people.

When I started college in 1991, there was a computer lab in my school(I think).  But what was it good for?  The only thing I used computers for was games(computers games were lame back then) and writing papers.  Because of the severe allergies I had to writing papers in my freshman year, I avoided the computer lab like a pin at a bowling ball convention.  Besides, I had this amazing “word processor” (it had a black background and orange font and that was its sole purpose.  Only $700.) that my sister lent me.  If I needed to do a paper that was due in 2 hours, I could just make up some words, slap some paper in this thing and turn in my completely terrible piece of writing, and get me a solid D-.  I didn’t need a stinking computer.  I had bitter things to do like starting food fights in the cafeteria (true story) or playing the dangerous sport of dorm hall football.

When I left college in 1998, I not only had my own computer, but it had the internet, Windows 95, and I was chatting, emailing and power pointing at cyber people like a boss, on screaming fast 28k dial-up.  I was bitter enough like the kids that the internet wasn’t fast enough, but also had a bitter understanding of the old people getting cranky because the kids had this stuff handed to them from the moment they were born.

Don't be jealous of my huge stereo that causes a hyrnea just to play a cassette.

Don’t be jealous of my “Ghetto Blaster” that caused a hernia just so I could play an awesome cassette. Or my fresh threads.

As a new college student, I was busting out music gangster style on cassettes.  The advantage to having cassettes of course, is the fact that I owned the music.  Of course, I needed a cool sounding machine to run the cassette, nicknamed a “Ghetto Blaster” or “Boom Box”.  As cool as Ipods are because they could store a billion songs on one tiny device, they couldn’t compete with a nicknames of the machines that could ruin your shoulder just by showing them off.  I never see people busting out their Ipods, or Iphones going, “Hey, who wants to do a rap battle?” The best part about getting sick of a song back then, was finding the song on the tape.  It wasn’t the inconvenience of pushing a few buttons, but the inexact science of rewinding and hoping and praying you pushed the play button at the exact right time, only to realize the song was on the other side of the tape.  Priceless.

In 1998, I was stealing music off the internet, overcrowding my computer with MP3’s and still having trouble finding the music I wanted.

Picture of me in college.  Neck, face and belly have changed, but the expression is the same, classic Bitter.

Picture of me in college. Neck, face, hair(loss) and belly have changed, but the expression is the same, classic Bitter.

What else changed between the beginning of college and the end?  How about my face, neck, hair(loss), and of course belly of the Baron of Bitterness himself.  When I started college, I was a gangly 6’1 160 lbs. weakling that could run a mile in about 6 minutes.  I could dunk a basketball when the rim bent slightly lower than the standard 10 feet and I could avoid breathing super heavily when speeding around campus…in my car.

At the end of college, in 1998, I was a 6’1 250 lbs. weakling that couldn’t run a mile, couldn’t dunk on a 5’0 hoop in NBA Jams, and got winded going from my room to get a hot pocket in the kitchen.

When I started college, finding a job was hard because I had to go to dozens of stores, ask for an application, hand the potential employer a resume that they would avoid and never call you.

In 1998, when college ended, finding a job was hard because I had to go on the internet, fill out dozens of applications, attach my resume on an email to the potential employer they would avoid me and never email me.

So because of my experiences in college, that spanned from the pre-internet world to the world of gadget avalanches, I have a unique perspective of how to be bitter about both time periods. In other words, as the Official Bridge Gapper of Bitter Generations, don’t mess with my ability to be bitter about any of your first world problems. Don’t battle with the Bitter Baron or you will get served…some rhubarb.


Bitter Baron Ben


89 thoughts on “From the BitterBenzoac Era to the Bitter Twitter Era

  1. Pingback: Download bitterness Matrix bitterness | Ben's Bitter Blog

  2. Pingback: If you are Bitter and Lazy like me you missed it…. | Ben's Bitter Blog

  3. Screaming fast 28k dialup cracked me up! Though I would like to add that when my Walkman used to run down its batteries and you used to have to hold your finger on the fast forward button a teeny bit to make the song sound right again made me very bitter did you have the same problem? Made being tone deaf a non issue though, Great Post! 11 stars 🙂


  4. It seems that in many ways, college ruined you. After all, you could run a mile in 6 minutes when you started and couldn’t when you finished. I bet you really feel bitter now a days trying to play music and get your iPod to somehow stay up on your shoulder.


  5. When I went to college MTV still played music videos and cells phones were really really big. Like, bigger than your boom box. In fact I thought that was my old cell phone.
    I’m not the least bit bitter about my so called college experiences. I’ll bet no one else had a professor who started the year with a long rambling tale about his encounter with aliens. In Pasadena. Mix tapes were the least of it. I still have a working boom box. And mix tapes. My iPod shuffle? Yeah, it broke after only 3 years of use! So I say FIE! Fie on your fancy ass new fangled….shit. I sound like an old fogey. I’m going to make rice pudding.


  6. I should’ve known you were a rhubarb fan.

    Nothing is as singular as the sound of dial-up internet—or the sense of accomplishment when you rewind your cassette tape to the exact spot you wanted on the first try. The things these dagum kids are missing…


  7. I started college a year before you and actually remember hosting a party in my apt in 1991 and scored the coup of having BOTH the Nirvana tape and the Red Hot Chili Peppers because we were so cutting edge. Also, we had to register OVER THE CORDED PHONE for classes, and if your class was full, you had to have a backup choice at the ready. BTW, all these WordPress peeps who were BORN then–I want to cut them.


    • As you read, you were supposed to go back in time and possess my baby form in order to see black and white. But alas, I may be able to be talked into finding a bitter baby picture if I ever get enough likes on the page.


  8. I was born in 1991. You were starting collage. Back then, I was untested in the bitter trials of the world. I enjoyed reading about your experience with them however. I also sighed bitterly when I read the bit about your 28K internet from 1998. Well here’s some shocking news for you: It’s 2013, and we still have 28K internet at my house. Actually, it’s not even that. On good days, we get 26.4K a second. True story. I drive 5 minutes into the town to go to the library and use their wifi if ever I need to do anything on the internet. Seriously, why do we even have internet at my house? As you might be able to tell, I’m slightly bitter about this.


    • Now that is something to be bitter about. I had no idea that 28 K actually existed. You need to have a talk with your folks about that. Broadband is probably cheaper than 28K. Don’t you just love hearing the old fax machine sound every time you log in? Do you have the original IBM 386 at your house?


      • It definitely is worth being bitter about. We have talked with local providers, however, due to the fact that we live almost in the middle of nowhere, broadband isn’t available, except by satellite, which around here is notoriously bad and a bit expensive. So somehow we soldier on with 28K…
        Nope, we do have a relatively new computer with a new OS, but we just don’t have the internet to match it.


        • So you are that far out in the middle of nowhere huh? I guess it does make sense to just have 28k if satellite is slow and expensive. I’m just used to have broadband for so long because we are in one of the most techy places (seattle) in the US.


        • I don’t think of it as out in the middle of nowhere – I mean, we have a little town just five minutes drive from my house – but I am out in the middle of the country, with nothing bu woods and fields all around. I quite like it. Except for the internet part. I have hopes that will change in the near future. I may be bitter, but I’m optimistic too.


        • When it storms we lose power a lot too. So much so that we have invested in a generator. Unfortunately we can’t do anything about the internet except to keep calling the providers and bug them about putting a line out here.


  9. This is the best post you’ve ever posted, Illustrious Baron of Bitterness. I say this because I am, apparently, one year older than you and I completely identified with and LOL’d at everything you just said (except for actually graduating from college within four years. But I was in London–which was kind of like college?–by 1997).

    Also–was it a Brother word processor? With a printer in the back? I had one on which I did all my college papers, too! I named it Clive, hoping something of the writing prowess of CS Lewis would adhere to my finger tips. I don’t think it did, alas . . .


    • It bitter have been my best post. It took me like 5 or 6 hours to do. So many bitter logistical nightmares involved. I stayed up really late to do it too. So I am tired and I’m going to be lazy for the rest of the week.
      I don’t remember the name, but now that you mentioned it, I think it was a Brother and yes it did have a built in printer. I definitely remember the whole orange font though.


      • oh.that’s a good reason….i went to school for 2 hours a day . my mother died a week after graduated/ high school, so i was trying to learn to cook & clean & stayed w/ my father.. then i would clean my x husbands apt. too.. i never slept. i was so tired…..
        my father took me out to eat every night, but after 3 months, i decided to learn to cook…our maid of 40 + years was totally blind & no one wanted to hurt her feelings, so i had to clean after her.


        • so you had to cook and clean and got to school for two hours a day. not exactly the way I did it. i went 4 states over, left my parents in the dust the moment I got there and only visited for christmas(that’s when I worked outside in -30), summer and a few breaks after that.


        • 4 states over… my brother (harvard) said you are not going to school in s.c. , n.c, ga or x….he sent me books from radcliff, schools in boston & california..forgot names, even though someone had a t shirt here the other….well i went 20 minutes away… i didn’t listen….i never leave my father…wish i didn’t meet husband though..
          also i didn’t have to go at all….. mother wanted me to..she died week after 12th grade….


        • i didn’t want to …have no idea why i did, except that’s what people do…waste of time,sleep , health & money…i went to a baptist college too; i’m jewish…
          they made you take P.E. too…lol i hate that… only good maynard ferguson came to concert… violin teacher was 1st chair….all my music teachers from when i was little were in the greenville symphony that played at furman.


    • I remember trying to record things from the radio. Sitting there waiting for your favorite song, then finding out your tape wouldn’t record or you had to record over something else. Also the whole rewinding to get to just the right spot to play your fav over and over again.


  10. I love this post!

    I especially like the part about the cassette tape. I don’t know if you remember 8 track tapes? They were even worse because they were twice the size of a cassette, and when it came to the end of the tape on the first side, if it was in the middle of the song, it would just stop playing… lol!
    They were like the laser disc of video.


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