Do You Remember Life Before The Internet?
If you’re a generation Y millennial like me, you’ll know how the internet has changed since you were a child.
A generation Y millennial includes anyone born between about 1980 and 2000. I’d go into detail about what the term Millennial means but I’m going to let you read this image from Urban Dictionary as it sums it up somewhat nicely 🙂
I don’t often use the word Millennial as I seem to hear it in a negative way more often than anything.
Trust me when I tell you that life before the internet, was very different..
In the olden days..
When I was younger, (especially my early teens) I used to complain about hearing people say ‘in the olden days’. I’d think anyone who used that phrase was ancient and roll my eyes. Now I find myself using a similar phrase which is ‘how times have changed’. It’s weird to think that people who are now in their early teens would look at me as an ‘older’ generation. I don’t feel a day over 16.
To anyone in their teens reading this post, the internet wasn’t always the way it is now; as accessible and as popular. Hard to believe right? That’s because you’ve grown up with it. And social media? Only the odd few people had Facebook let alone any other channels. Now it seems odd if anyone isn’t a regular user of social media, and they appear mysterious for not having an online ‘life’.
Who remembers MSN?
MSN was all everyone in my generation used to use. I have come across people who don’t know what it is and it kinda stabs me in the feels. For anyone who doesn’t know – MSN is/was (is it even still around?) an instant messenger service. Think a desktop version of Whats’App but you could send actions. Such as a nudge, where you would instantly pop up on the other persons screen, so there’s no avoiding your message.
Every night when I got in from school I would log in and chat to my friends endlessly. As well as chatting with your friends there were several ‘chatbots’ that were introduced to MSN. Alien Chat and Santa Bot being some of the other ones that I used; but Smarter Child was the main one. I found it incredibly infuriating yet amusing. You could talk to it and ask it general questions, but if you were abusive or used bad language, it would reply saying that your comments had hurt it’s feelings. Then it wouldn’t respond to you until you apologised.
It was like as if you were to look at cyber bullying, and wouldn’t forgive until you had an apology. It was a very similar scenario. Even though smarterchild was just a robot, it was as if you were having a conversation with an actual person.
I eventually grew out of using MSN Messenger when I was old enough to have a phone. And now the chatbots that I used to talk to don’t exist anymore. It’s quite sad really. But now we have Siri, Cortana and Alexa. Who knew there would be a gap in the market for ‘robots’ which answered your questions any time of day. It is something that got us all interested and hooked on.
Chatbots: A pretentious robot who believes it’s better than you, that spends its time on IM messaging services provided by AOL.
Actually going on the internet was such hassle.
In my early teens when I was living at home, if I wanted to go on the computer to use the internet I had to beg my mum and promise it was to do schoolwork. In order to access the internet you would have to unplug the phone line and plug in the internet cable, which was metres long (literally) and went from the living room all through the hallway to the router. It took ages for the internet to get up and running, whilst making the most awful screeching sound. During the time you were on the internet you couldn’t receive any phone calls obvs as the telephone line wasn’t plugged in. It would take several minutes if you’re lucky to actually connect to the internet and it would be unbearably slow and disconnect all the bloody time. My life before the internet upped its game meant my mum and I would constantly be at war over whether being on the internet or making a call was more important.
Oh and did I mention there was usually one computer per household? You’d be lucky if there were more.
I remember spending the majority of the time on MSN and Youtube watching music videos and my mum yelling at me from the other room if she needed to use the phone. I’d be made to get off the computer instantly and be in a huff for hours.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I take the internet and social media for granted.
If my internet ever goes down for longer than a minute I stress so much and complain endlessly until the problem is fixed. thinking back to when I was younger and the internet was much more of a luxury seems like a different lifetime. I couldn’t imagine things still being like that now.
I am not old enough to have been around when there was no mobile phones and no internet. Although it was limited when I was a child. I have missed out on experiencing life as a young adult, without mobile phones, social networking and getting instant answers. I couldn’t imagine living life without the internet now, I just wouldn’t know how to fill my time.
Are we now anti-social, intelligence cheats?
Let me explain..
If I have a question, instead of going to the library for example to find out the answer, or picking up the telephone to ask a family member or a friend. I will simply pick up my mobile phone and search for the answer on Google. This leads me to millions of answers which will appear on my screen in relevance order and I can search through them. Whereas before mobile phones, you would have to go out of your way to ask and find out the answer, making you socialise. Although this is much more convenient than things were before, we are now lacking social conversation as we don’t have to do it as often.
If someone is studying for an exam and are lacking knowledge on a particular topic; instead of taking more notes and paying more attention in class, they can just sit at home, tap the question into their phone or computer; and be instantly met with all the answers they require, without leaving the house.
Yes this is brilliant and practical! But is this cheating? Now we are becoming lazy and don’t even have to try to get the answers we want. We no longer have to sit and work through loads of textbooks to find our answers.
Before the internet was so huge were we more social?
Everything can now be done online. From ordering your food shopping, to booking cinema tickets, to a table at a restaurant. It is all made so easy for us!
What I find hard to think about is when things were simpler and more, well basic. Meeting up with a friend and actually sticking to the time. Not being able to call or text if you have to cancel or are running late. Just sticking to your words and being there on time and sticking to appointments. I used to make plans with friends when I was 10-13 and we didn’t have phones and there was no way to communicate beforehand.
You could argue that actually it’s the opposite now. Since Social Media has become so huge, society are glued to their phones and are constantly texting friends/socialising on Facebook or Twitter. What’s better? Yes it’s easier to socialise now the online world exists, but does that make us forget to socialise with the ‘real’ people around us? The person sitting next to you on the train, or the people in your office/class – Would you speak to them in real life as easy as you would over social media?
You wouldn’t meet a stranger without doing a little research (to make sure they’re not a catfish)
You probably wouldn’t right? Although it’s hard to verify people and confirm they are who they say they are without viewing the window into their whole life. Some of my friends have recently been on dating sites, or have been set up on a blind date. They did not know what the person looked like in real life, or anything about them. But would they just go and meet them without doing the background research on them first? Of course not! They search frantically through Facebook for their profile, see what they have been up to lately, their likes and dislikes, work history, you can even see what music and films they are into!
So before you have even met them you know nearly everything about them! And when the time comes to meet them you don’t have to take the time to find out anywhere near as much information as you normally would on the first couple of dates. Yes, it can be a good way to steer the conversation towards something they are passionate about, but surely this leaves them pre judged? And there will be many awkward silences?
Finding the middle ground.
If I were to meet someone new, I’d like it to be a fresh start. To meet them in the flesh without judging their appearance through a profile photo online. I would like to find out about them from the start without knowing it all before I have met them. It’s just more social, and the mystery is still there, it can be exciting. Of course this means you’d have to initially meet them in person rather than online.
Say you plan a trip with your partner, it could be anywhere. You can go online and see all the reviews that people have written about that place; and if there is only a small amount of feedback which is negative, it could throw you off and make you decide not to go there. But maybe their negative review was down to personal preference or a way to badmouth the company and all you can see is 1 star? Then again I always check reviews on things that I wouldn’t typically spend my money on. So I guess my question is – Should we be more open minded about online reviews and less gullible?
Have you experienced life before the internet? Does the internet ruin mystery? In my opinion it definitely does. What are your thoughts?
A previous version of this post was published on my old blog ‘Lauren Says It All’