I miss the '90s

Last semester, one of my assignments was to form a group and design some materials for an imaginary conference. Since the conference was imaginary, there were very few restrictions on the types of things you could produce for it. If you could make it happen in Illustrator, it was pretty much a green light. "Finally," I thought to myself, "I can introduce the much-needed element of pogs into this class."

Why did pogs fall out of favor with the American youth? If pogs came out tomorrow for the first time in recorded history, would they be eaten up as eagerly as they were in the early '90s? I don't think so, and I have no qualms about placing all the blame for this horrible truth squarely on the advent of the internet. If you think about it, pogs were truly the original social networking sites. You slammed your slammer (friend request) down on your friend's pog stack (buddy list), and kept the ones that came up heads for yourself. And much like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and all the services like them, nobody really knew the rules to pogs. Everybody kind of had a blurry, kinda-maybe-sorta idea of what should be going on, but it was very unclear whether or not you were supposed to actually trade pogs when it was all over, just how hard slammers could be ethically slammed, and what exactly the point was in having these weird little circular pictures of things like skeletons, endangered species, and Johnny Cage. Was anyone really made better by having the most pogs? But still, pogs was a common element that just about every kid could use to plug into his or her social sphere, just like Facebook pages are today. And just like pogs, people are still kind of confused about what exactly Facebook should be for. Endless poke wars? Posting drunken pictures of yourself to make sure that you never betray your young idealism and end up running for public office later in life? Damned if I know. The only reason I have mine is because I'm addicted to seeing a little red flag in the lower right corner of my screen, just like I was addicted to thowing slammers at pogs.

But unlike Facebook, pogs were totally sweet. It wasn't just about addiction, social interaction, or wasting time. Sure, they went down in history as a goofy '90s fad, not totally unlike slap bracelets, Boy Meets World, and the Backstreet Boys, but pogs was somehow greater than the sum of its parts. It wasn't just little cirley things you hit really hard in order to get more little circley things. It was all of pop culture condensed into a weird little game with mysterious rules and no tangible purpose.

What am I getting at with all this? Basically, I'm saying that if you still have pogs, you should come over to my apartment and we should Wikipedia the rules and play a few games. I think this came on when someone linked me to a YouTube video of some band called the XYZ Affair that was composed of grown up Nickelodeon personalities like Fergusen from Clarissa Explains it All, Marc Summers from Double Dare, and Bobby Budnick from Salute Your Shorts. I bet those guys all still play pogs together.


Sean Stewart said...

Pogs certainly dominated my birthday presents for a few years. I had a solid metal slammer with a skull and crossbones on it that nicked and defaced many a peer's pogs. I also should follow in your footsteps and transform my old facebook notes into a new blog.

Cheers to pogging and blogging. Pog-blog? Pogger to blogger? Blog pog krunk plogging blogger plob.

Jacklaw said...

Haha, I totally had a slammer like that! It was all huge and thick and destructive, like it was more this inch-thick cylindrical chunk of flying death than a slammer, and it weighted seven pounds and was so much overkill that it would just dent the pogs or bend them in half instead of making them flip.

Man, no wonder schools banned pogs.