12 Unspeakably Terrible Things From the 80s

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The 80s was a time of colorful and interesting fashion, the rise of sitcoms, and iconic music. A lot of these trends from the 80s have made their way back into popular culture over the past few years. But here are 12 things from the darker side of that decade that people prefer never to talk about.

How Strong the Stigma Was Against People With AIDs

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“Nobody knew what it was, if it was curable, or how it spread. It was terrifying because it brought out the worst in so many people,” remembers a user. 

Chicago Tylenol Murders

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Someone laced Tylenol capsules with potassium cyanide in 1982, killing seven people in three days. This story went on for days, but the FBI did not catch the culprit due to a lack of evidence. 

1983 Soviet Nuclear False Alarm Incident

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No one talks about how Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov “single-handedly saved the world from nuclear war” in 1983. The Soviet Union’s Nuclear-Early Warning system created a false alarm that there were five incoming missiles from the US. 

However, Stanislav argued that the US would use more than five missiles if they intended to go to war. Can you imagine what would have happened if he had made a different call?

Satanic Panic

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This is another ghost of the past that many would rather forget. There was the hysteria that games like Dangers and Dungeons and heavy metal music lured people into satanic cults. There were also allegations of “satanic rituals taking place in schools and daycares, based on manipulated children testimonies, which resulted in many people going to prison.” 

Ronald Reagan Fired Almost All Striking Air Traffic Controllers

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Ronald Reagan had had it with Air Traffic controllers’ strike requesting better pay and working conditions. So, he fired over 11,000 people who refused to get back to work and banned them for life.  

Cocaine Was Everywhere

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A poster recalls, “We were buying each other grams (of cocaine) for birthday presents when we were 16.” Its surplus supply resulted in a significant price drop. 

Savings and Loan Crisis

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One user explains the crisis was caused by “speculation, ignorant government policies, and deregulations.” This saw the closure of many savings and loan institutions. 

The Troubles

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This was an explosive time in Northern Ireland, where there was a clash between Protestant England and Catholic Ireland. Both parties suffered violence, killings, and bombings, with over 3,500 people dead and over 30,000 injured. 

The Challenger Explosion

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The disaster happened on January 28, 1986, as people watched on their TV screens. The explosion killed the seven crew members on board, although there are reports that the crew survived the initial blast but died after they hit the ocean.

1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre

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The 80s were a monumental time for change in China. There were student-led protests on demands for political freedom, with over a million protestors gathering at Tiananmen Square. 

However, on June 4, 1989, the government took action against the protestors, opening fire, arresting, and crushing them. According to public records, over 200 civilians died, but there are some speculations that there were more fatalities. 

Racism Was Worse Than It Is Today

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Back then, there was more racial violence, and it was acceptable to ridicule other races openly. 


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South Africa also experienced apartheid, resulting in brutal crackdowns, violence, imprisonment, and deaths. Sadly, this happens to date. 

“‘Not white enough for old South Africa, not black enough for new South Africa’ is a common sentiment among colored people lately,” a poster points out.

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