“What was life like without internet?” my son asked me the other day.
This question caught me off guard, you see even though I’m in my 40s, it’s hard for me to remember exactly what my life was like in the pre-internet era.
Let me see, I spent a good chunk of my life without internet. No cell phone. No laptop. No email. No social media. No iPads. No Netflix. You YouTube. No Waze. No Amazon Prime.
My goodness! How did I get things done back then and what did I do with myself?
I had to sit down for this one and really think it through.
And I’m glad I did because our generation is the last generation to remember life without the internet. We lived the before and after, so we owe this to our digital native kids, and grandkids and all future generations to talk about these things.
I’m not going to deny that much of pre-internet life sucked, like having to learn everyone’s phone number by heart or get directions from the Thomas Guide but there were aspects of life back then that had such appeal.
Life (and the world around me) certainly moved at a slower pace. I had a lot of downtime, time to waste, time to play, time to unwind, time to think, time to savor life, yet I also vividly remembered being frequently bored.
While technology and internet has made life easier and better in many ways, here’s what I miss most from those days:
♥♥ The feeling of being unreachable. When I took a vacation, no one could reach me. Takes my breath every time I think about that!
♥♥ Living each moment without having the need or desire to record it all. Oh, the freedom!
♥♥ The hour-long phone conversations with friends – every day. I can’t believe we had so much to talk about.
♥♥ Lingering over meals with my family, just talking and laughing. Although, I must say we still do this every time I visit my parents.
♥♥ Watching a show on TV with my loved ones and enjoying each other’s commentary.
♥♥ Getting visitors at all hours of the day, with or without an invitation. This was how we stay connected.
♥♥ Having a lot of time to work out at the gym. Just me and my walkman, oh yeah!
♥♥ Spending mornings reading the newspaper from front to end and ending up with stained hands.
♥♥ Spending hours on Friday evenings at Blockbuster browsing all the new releases. Remember to be kind and rewind.
♥♥ Going to the record stores on Saturdays and spending hours flipping through album racks. Such a fun and relaxing experience.
♥♥ Listening to the radio for hours on end ready to record my favorite songs.
♥♥ Lazing around on a blanket at the park or beach reading a Stephen King novel. Totally disconnected.
♥♥ Consulting with my parents, librarians, and older people on anything I didn’t know.
♥♥ Making plans with friends. We just told each other where and what time to meet and from there we would decide what else to do.
♥♥ Finally, the simple idleness of everyday living. Waiting in line at the bank, going up the elevator, sitting at your doctor’s office – these were moments for staring into space, striking a conversation with a stranger, or simply daydreaming. Now we browse the internet between wait times. There is no downtime.
When I tell my son about these memories, he looks puzzled but he smiles nonetheless. I know inside he’s thinking “thank god I didn’t live in that era.” But for us that do remember, we know what it felt like to walk outside, look ahead, make our own fun, and not be tethered to any network.
It certainly was a life worth living.