I remember the glorious, life-changing day in 1997 when I first got internet access at home. I was in high school, and I had just visited a friend who was chatting online. I don’t know why I found talking to hundreds of strangers about nothing so appealing, but before the day was out I had internet access at my own home.
It would be the understatement of the century to say that our lives have changed dramatically since the internet went mainstream. My generation was fortunate enough to have the internet enter our daily lives as teenagers, giving us a taste of both the dark ages and the age of the “internets,” as George W. Bush might say. Our parents’ generation made it through their teen and child-rearing years without the help of the internet. Those a few years younger than us can’t imagine life without it.
Even though I lived on this earth for 17 years without the internet as a part of my daily life, I still have a hard time remembering just what the heck I did before I had internet access. Before my memories of the pre-WWW world disappear, I’d like to list a few ways people may have spent their time before the internet.
Buying music in stores
Really, people used to do that. If we wanted a single song we bought the “single.” Portable music was available on the Walkman, and it was awesome! Just a word of warning in case you ever come across an old Walkman, kids. Don’t try to shove the headphones in your ears. It didn’t work that way then. Rock the big, bulbous foam headphones externally as God intended it.
How old school is that? If instant news was your thing you better be wherever the news was happening. Back in the day, “googling” something probably meant you were sticking funny looking eyes on it. While fun, it wasn’t very effective in a crisis.
Thinking they had a disease…when a doctor told them they had a disease.
That funny looking rash on your ankle was just a rash back then. It wasn’t a symptom of a rare disease that affects approximately 4.5 people in the U.S. each year. If you needed medical advice, you either took advice from your grandma (before the internet you didn’t know it might kill you), or you went to the doctor. The doctor was always right back then, too. You weren’t more of an expert on your condition than he was, so you listened to him (unless Grandma said he was wrong).
Having actual sex with actual humans
If she was really a guy you found out a whole lot sooner!
Watching “viral” videos…
on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Sadly, Bob Saget was your only source of entertainment when it came to viewing stupid things other people were doing. When something funny hit your husband in the crotch and you happened to have your 50 pound video camera rigged up and ready to go, you sent the video straight to Bob for the world to see.
Laughing out loud
Nobody heard a joke and said, “I’m laughing out loud (lol),”or “Gee guys, I’m rolling on the floor laughing (rofl).” See, if you were in fact doing these things, the person you were talking to would have witnessed it. If something was funny, we actually laughed.
Not knowing details of their great uncle’s romantic shenanigans
Social networking has opened up a weird, entertaining, scary, addictive world where you can find out more about a person in 30 seconds than you used to be able to find out in 30 years. You can find out how your doctor likes his coffee and what your grandma does after a night of drinking. (Didn’t know your grandma drinks? You do now!) In the old days, people went to their graves without knowing that their cousin secretly feared toilet paper, or their uncle enjoyed dressing as a woman on Tuesdays.
For the most part, the internet has changed life for the better. I can’t imagine where technology will take us from here, but I can’t wait to find out!