Maybe it’s the recent Facebook Videos that made me suddenly recall that once, not even half my lifetime ago, there was no internet.
Oh, sure, maybe there was some DARPA-esque Al Gore built top-secret information highway chunneling around the military underground- but COULD I GOOGLE?
No. Therefore, in my (paper) book, no REAL internet. I write this largely for posterity, as I’m pretty sure my children won’t believe me about this. But y’all, this is how it was.
To communicate via the written word with others, one wrote on a piece of paper with this thing called a pen. You placed the piece of paper in an envelope, put a physical address on it, place a stamped indicator of currency on the front for its transport, MAILed it, and waited anywhere from 2 days to a week for it to arrive. THEN??? You had to wait for a REPLY.
If you wanted to watch a show, you turned on the TV at the appointed time, or arranged for it to be recorded on a taping device known as a VHS. There was no Tivo, no Netflix, no Hulu, no cable. There was like, six channels, and real-time viewership.
For new music to reach your ears, it was played on the radio, spun on a turntable, or recorded on a tape. If you heard a song on the radio and loved it but didn’t know who it was? No Shazam. No Spotify. You had to wait around to hear it again. (You sure couldn’t Google it.)
The news was announced several ways- via a print morning newspaper delivered to one’s home, or during several scheduled broadcasts (morning, afternoon, and evening) to be aired on one of the above mentioned six channels.
If it was SUPER DUPER important, they might interrupt the Brady Bunch to tell you- but there was no 24/7 news cycle, no endless positing on the minutiae of every story.
To purchase any sort of goods, one had to go to a nearby brick and mortar store and peruse the available selection. If they didn’t have what you wanted, they could call other stores and you could wait a few WEEKS (!!!) for your desired item. There was no instant price comparison, no smorgasbord of choices arrayed day and night, claimed with the click of a mouse. You had to GO GET STUFF.
And as for friends? They were limited to those you had met, or carried on an everyday relationship with. We gained insight into one another’s lives by phone calls, letters, or physical observations. I think there was much less “sharing”. And, since I am all for (over)sharing, this newfound abundance of my peep’s daily details is one of my favorite parts of the internet.
What used to be controlled by gatekeepers is now a constant flow of input from anyone who cares to toss in their two cents. And I, for one, think it makes things far more interesting.
Now, get off my lawn!
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