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Life Before The Internet

January 25, 2018
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

I bet a lot of you would be surprised if you sat down with friends and started thinking about things in your lifetime that have changed from then until now. A while back, when visiting with some friends, one of the group mentioned a list of things that people used to do before the Internet became so common place in our lives. I remembered that conversation and did a little digging, and found the following items that fit the bill. See if you agree.

Buying encyclopedias - That's right, they were physical books, and you actually did research papers by looking up the topic alphabetically.

Ask for directions - There weren't apps or GPS. People had to use paper maps. You looked up the street, it gave you the quadrant, and you'd have to figure out how to get there. Not to mention that you also had to figure out where exactly you were. Typically, this involved asking innocent bystanders.

Struggle to get music - Kids actually burned (made) custom music CD's and sold them at school. Napster changed everything as nobody was used to having access to so much music!

Read actual books at the library - Your home encyclopedias were fine for elementary school, even middle school. In high school and college though, you had to go to the library. And not all libraries were equal. Many times you had to go search out a bigger library just to get access to more scholarly books and information.

Write things by hand - Although there were word processors and printers in the early 90's, they weren't common. Most people still had to write out their school assignments.

Carry change - Why? Because you might need to use a payphone!

Call payphone operators to get the time - It's true. Of course there were watches, but not everyone had them.

Learn cursive - At least that's what your teacher wanted you to do because you'd, "need it in the future." Nobody knew that in a few years you would barely use a pencil to sign your own name.

Talk to your girlfriend/boyfriends parents every time you wanted to call him/her - You had to call his/her house and in all likelihood tell their parents that you wanted to speak to them. We know, it was terrifying

Pay the bills with checks - And then you had to mail them.

Wait for photographs to develop - You actually had to go to the store and leave your film there to have it developed. And then you could put your photos in a book and show them to your friends.

Wait to watch TV shows - Want to watch that one cartoon you like? Well, you better tune in at 8:30 am on Saturday, otherwise you're out of luck.

Remember phone numbers - Back in the day you actually had to dial numbers on the telephone every time you wanted to call someone.

Read the news once a day - You read it every morning in something called a "newspaper" (yes, it was actual paper). After that, there wasn't any news until 6 pm on TV.

Play outside - And parents didn't always require their kids to "check in." You just had to be home before dark. Sound fun? It was.

Listen to messages on the answering machine - Instead of judging your popularity by the number of "likes" you receive, people judged their popularity by the number of messages people left them.

Talk face to face - Dialogue was an art form.

There are more, to be sure, but perhaps this last item is the most significant, in my opinion. As we get busier, we talk to each other less. So many misunderstandings could be eliminated and avoided with a simple, face-to-face conversation - between friends.



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