We have seen technology change the whole way we communicate, socialize, date and interact in the last two decades, but are we always better off for it?
For many of us born in the late seventies/early eighties, we grew up in a whole different time — a time when smart phones and social media were inconceivable concepts, and while we can’t deny some of the benefits these advances have brought, I still feel a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time — a time where we had way more freedom to just live in the moment.
Here are the top ten reasons why I am glad I grew up in the days before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest all began:
1. We Had More Privacy
Growing up, we didn’t have any online accounts that we had to worry about getting hacked or people being able to access our digital biography at the touch of a button. When I was younger, there was certainly no risk of what I call the “photo attack.” I didn’t have to worry about waking up one morning and casually checking my Facebook page, only to find a college friend had posted a “blast” down memory lane for everyone in my friends list, including all of my professional colleagues, to see.
While I may love these fun memories, these pictures belong tucked away, in faded photo albums somewhere and not as an unexpected Facebook post for an internet audience to see.
2. We Took REAL Pictures
We had these things called cameras. They were not attached to iPhones; they were separate entities that had nothing to do with phones or social media.
After we took pictures on a vacation, at a party or on a girl’s night out, we had no option to instantly post them to our Facebook pages. We had to actually take them to be developed, and then we waited. And waited. Sometimes up to two weeks to get them back.
Once we had them, we excitedly ripped open those red Kodak envelopes to see how they came out, filled with curiosity and built-up anticipation. We went through them eagerly, and if we got one or two perfect shots, we were happy. Inevitably, someone had red eye in one picture, or another picture had a thumbprint on it, or there was bad lighting and some of them came out way too dark, but they were real pictures and captured real moments we could never relive. There was no do-over. You didn’t take fifty selfies to get the shot right for your latest post. YOU JUST TOOK THE DAMN PICTURE and hoped it came out okay.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was simple. We just got what we got, and we were happy with it.
3. We Actually “Talked” To Each Other
The art of conversation is quickly dying these days. When I was growing up and we wanted to talk to our friends, we didn’t text or Facebook message them. No, we actually picked up our phones (these were usually attached to the wall in everyone’s kitchen and had large buttons and a long cord) and we called them. We actually talked, out loud, to our friends. Can you imagine? We called each other to make plans!
We also had perfected the art of the “phone slam” (probably to the utter annoyance of our parents). You know that moment when you were fighting with your best friend or boyfriend or sibling, and you were so mad you just needed to get off that phone now? Enter that satisfying phone slam (with our old fashioned childhood phones) where we could smash that phone down, listen to it make that loud sound, and know, with smug satisfaction, “Ah ha! Now they know how pissed I am!”
This can never be recreated with a smart phone. Hitting the red “end call” button is just not the same.
4. We Used Real Words When We Spoke
When we thought something was funny, we just said that. There was no LOL, LMFAO, SMH, OMFG and a million emojis or icons that I can’t even keep up with. I mean, really, can someone please tell me what half of these things even mean?
5. We Amused Ourselves
We didn’t have a constant stream of news feeds and status updates to frequently check or entertain us. We didn’t have Twitter to read every second. We didn’t have iPads to watch any movie or TV show on.
When we were young and were stuck doing errands with our parents or waiting at a doctor’s office and felt bored or restless, we just WAITED! Nowadays, each kid is on their iPad in the waiting room and is plugged in the whole time. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like a little online shopping on my phone when I am stuck in a waiting room as much as the next busy mom, but the lack of constant digital amusement when we were young laid the foundation for us to just learn to wait and in many ways to be more creative with what we had.
6. We Really Played
When we wanted to have fun, we invented creative games, ran around outside, built forts that took up the whole room and propelled off of the dining room table. We played board games, and we were always on the hunt to find new activities. We did not, however, have every television show and movie on Netflix or Apple TV at our disposal.
Kids these days have no idea what it is really like to build a fort with all the pillows from your couch and sheets from the closet. When I think back to when I was a little kid, those days were some of the most fun we ever had and were probably the times when my brother and I got along best. We were joined in the mutual project of destroying the dining room and making an indestructible, no-parent-can-ever-penetrate fort!
7. We Lived In The Present
When we were playing as kids or going out as college students and as young adults, we were so caught up in our fun that we didn’t stop every second to document this or post that. We just had a good time and did our thing.
Now, our concept of these social moments is so altered because we feel the need to stop and share where we are at all times, what we are doing, and hell, even what we had for breakfast (And seriously, what’s up with all of the brunch pancake and waffle close up shots each Sunday on Facebook?). Thanks, but I already know what waffles look like, and unless you are bringing some over, I really don’t need to see an up close and detailed picture.
8. The Past Was The Past
When we were growing up, matters of the heart were handled a little differently. When we broke up with a boyfriend or girlfriend (or had a falling out with a friend), we had to resort to much more involved measures to find out what these exes were up to. Maybe we would hear some news about them from another friend, or we may even run into them somewhere, but if we really wanted to know where they were or who they might be with, we did an old fashioned, pre-internet “drive by.”
We had no Facebook pages to examine or Google searches to do. So as time went on, we moved on, and these people faded into memory only to pop back up every now and again as you thought, “I wonder what ever happened to…”
9. We Slept With Just An Alarm Clock Next To Us
We didn’t have our smart phones right by our bed, chirping and vibrating all night, where we felt tempted to peek at it in the middle of the night or sneak in late night texts. We had an alarm clock (I still remember my electric pink Hello Kitty clock), and that’s what woke us up.
And it worked just fine.
10. You Couldn’t Always Be Found
In my younger days, sometimes when you called someone, the phone just rang and rang, and after a bunch of rings you assumed, “Okay, they are not home.” (Yes, when I was very young there was no voicemail, and then the answering machine was invented. The tape in these machines would get all jammed and tangled, and you had to oh-so-carefully wind that tape back into the mini cassette, fearing you had lost messages.) No one knew exactly where you were, when you would be back, or when you had listened to their message, but nowadays, you can always be located no matter where you are.
In our digital world these days, our daily activity can become like a Google map for all to see. Everyone knows when you are logged on to Facebook and can even see if you are logged on by your mobile phone or by your computer. If you text from one iPhone to another iPhone, then the phone will tell you exactly when the message was delivered. Our activity is always out there to be traced, tracked and seen.
So yes, I sometimes miss the days when we were not so plugged in, tracked and visible at all times.
These days, my household is like many other homes in that we have our smart phones and iPads and laptops, and I know the terrain has permanently changed; the dialogue will never go back to our simpler times. And it is convenient.
But sometimes, it wouldn’t hurt all of us to reign it in a little.
Pick up the phone and actually make a call instead of just sending a text, enjoy a selfie-free night out, teach children the beauty of real, hands-on play, and most important of all, give ourselves freedom to just be in the moment — a picture, status, tweet-free, just-enjoying-life moment.