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​20 Funny Things People in the 1970s Were Totally Guilty of Doing

From macramé to mood rings, we made some interesting choices back then.

People who grew up in the '70s often say the same thing: "Thank goodness we didn't have social media back then. We got to make our mistakes in private and not have them preserved forever on the internet." And for good reason, because those of us who survived the '70s have a lot of explaining to do. Here are 20 things that we all thought were cool back in those groovy days, but have us burying our faces in our hands now.

Owning a pet rock

painted pet rock

In the '70s, even adults had pet rocks. We all displayed them proudly in their googly-eyed glory. We didn't even consider that spending cash on something we could easily find on the ground for free wasn't the wisest use of our hard-earned money. Nor did we think about the fact that no, a rock cannot provide the same affection or cuddles as a dog, cat, or even a gerbil.

Wearing polyester

leisure suit

We had a lot of clothing fabric options in the '70s—and yet, we still chose polyester. We even thought those polyester suits made us look good. You live and you learn.

Decorating with lava lamps

Lave Lites

In the '70s, everybody wanted their bedroom to look like a mad scientist's laboratory. Was there something really that fascinating about the floating globs of whatever was in there? Or did we just have nothing else to do after Saturday Night Live was over?

Putting faith in a mood ring

close up shot of a mood ring on a woman's hand

Mood rings were apparently filled with thermotropic liquid crystals, and their molecular structure would change based on temperature. And you didn't have to be a chemist to realize that your girlfriend's ring always being blue didn't mean she was the most calm human of all time. If you want to know someone's mood, then you should pay attention to how they're behaving. Sure, it takes more time, but at least you'll get a slightly more accurate reading than "Violet means excited!"

Having appliances in "avocado" or "harvest gold"

old fridge avocado color

We're not sure when the vote was taken that every refrigerator and stove in America should be a mustardy yellow or bluish-green, but that seemed to be the case for every appliance for the whole of the decade. The stainless steel appliances of today may look sleek, but they lack the personality that came with cooking on one of the these babies in the '70s.

Making carpet angels in shag carpeting

A Living Room With a Fake Plant 1990s Home Decor

In the '70s, shag carpets were the dictionary definition of luxury, even if you had to vacuum them three times a day. This aesthetic may be super dated today, but could you make angels in your living room right now? Yeah, we didn't think so.

Being obsessed with macramé

Macrame Plant Hangers 70s Living Room

Every home had at least a few of these handcrafted hanging works of art in the 1970s, perfect for keeping all their plants on display. There's nothing wrong with macramé on general principle, but we see now that just because we could tie a knot didn't mean we had good taste in interior design.

Staying up too late to watch Saturday Night Live

1970s Black Family, mom and dad and daughter, watches TV
ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

The first episode of Saturday Night Live premiered on October 11, 1975, and the show instantly became the cornerstone of the weekend. People like John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner were comedy rebels, and we felt a little naughty for staying up late to indulge in their irreverent humor.

Kids these days can just stream the key skits on Hulu or YouTube the next day, but watching the sketch show live was the norm in the 1970s. (Hey, it's in the name, after all.)

And reciting the "Wild and Crazy Guys" sketch for your co-workers

Two Wild and Crazy Guys Funniest SNL Skits

In this recurring skit, Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin played two Czechoslovakian brothers constantly trying to get together with "swinging American foxes." It was a solid parody of the kinds of schmoes you actually came across in nightclubs, even though the ethnic element wasn't necessary. Still, more than 40 years ago, we thought it was hilarious and couldn't wait to talk about it—and imitate it—around the water cooler on Monday.

Unbuttoning your shirt way too low

bee gees
CSU Archives/Everett Collection

If your shirt wasn't unbuttoned all the way down to your navel, you were uptight in the 1970s. The look was definitely on the casual side of business casual, and looking back, only Barry Gibb (pictured here) could pull it off. Case closed.

Liking disco

ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

We didn't just enjoy disco in the '70s. We made it the dominant musical genre in the country. Even bands that didn't play disco, like The Rolling Stones and KISS, felt obligated to produce a disco song so that people would buy their records. We apologize now for the error of our ways.

And loving ABBA

Classic Picture Library/Alamy

ABBA is synonymous with the '70s. Yes, we know that the music is a little cheesy—Mamma Mia and its sequel made that pretty clear—but when "Dancing Queen" comes on, you just can't help but feel the beat.

Practicing "the bump" with your friends 'til your hips hurt

the bump dance, 70s

One of the more iconic disco dance moves of the '70s was "the bump," which involved smashing your hips into your partner's while rhythmically twisting from one side to the other. The hustle we still stand behind. But this? This was just a bruise waiting to happen!

Growing mustaches and mutton chops

Portrait of 1970s hippie man with beard and long hair being spiritual in Berkeley, California in the 1970s
Kathy deWitt / Alamy Stock Photo

We're not talking about the kind of mustaches that are popular today. Modern facial hair enthusiasts at least take the time for grooming. But back in the '70s, guys grew mustaches and mutton chops with a "Let It Be" philosophy. Their faces ended up looking like the neglected backyard vegetation of an abandoned building. Somebody needed to get in there with a rotary tiller to clean up that mess. Stat!

Not converting to the metric system

meter ruler for metric system, 1970s nostalgia

On December 23, 1975, U.S. President Gerald Ford signed the Metric Conversion Act into law, thereby officially declaring the metric system the new preferred system of measurement. Most of the country, however, declined to make that a reality. And now, we're still stuck trying to convert miles into kilometers.

Betting on Bobby Riggs beating Billie Jean King

billy jean king
Screenshot via SI

It was dubbed the "Battle of the Sexes," but you didn't have to be a tennis expert to predict how this 1973 battle was going to end. Sadly, not all of us were ready to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, a 29-year-old female athlete could wipe the floor with her 55-year-old male opponent. And yes, we feel silly now.

Believing The Complete Book of Running could solve all our health problems

tube socks and short shorts, 1970s nostalgia

Don't get us wrong: Running is great, but there are a lot of other types of exercise out there! Jim Fixx's 1977 best-seller, however, convinced the world that running was the key to longevity. In the early 1980s, he famously died of a heart attack at the age of 52 in the middle of a run in Vermont. It was a tragic lesson for all of us, but it did open up a nationwide conversation about running, health, and life expectancy.

Owning a Pinto


What was so bad about Pintos? Nothing visually. Its tendency to burst into flames, however? Yeah, that was a problem. Despite at least 27 Pinto-related deaths, people bought them anyway. Thankfully, we're all much smarter now.

Waiting in gas lines for hours

gas station lines, 1970s nostalgia

Granted, the oil shortages of the '70s weren't exactly our fault. But those huge, gas-guzzling cars we insisted on driving didn't help matters either. As a result, we'd wait forever in line for gas. Some stations even started posting color-coded flags: Green indicated they still had gas, while red alerted customers that they were out.

In 2019, we know that bicycles provide a much healthier and more eco-friendly way to get to work, and you can avoid road rage to boot. We '70s survivors don't feel great about all those minutes and fumes wasted.

Owning a waterbed

Vintage Floral Bedding 1980s Home Decor

A mattress filled with water? Yeah, we knew this wasn't a good idea, but it was all about the motion of the ocean, baby. Waterbeds became popular at the end of the decade and grew to be a $2 billion business by 1984, according to The New York Times. We certainly don't long for the days when you had to lug a hose up to your bedroom to fill up your mattress. Today's air mattresses are time-consuming enough! And for more of a look back at our cringeworthy choices, here's The Most Embarrassing Style Trend the Year You Were Born.

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