People Old Enough To Remember Life Pre-Internet Are Sharing What They Miss The Most About That Time (30 Tweets) Interview
We all know how technology has benefited us, but have you ever stopped to think about what we lost when the internet started permeating every aspect of our lives? Nervously sitting in a diner waiting for your date to arrive without any way to communicate with them, heading home when the sun starts setting (rather than when Mom sends a text), and taking the time to write physical letters that will be delivered days later via snail mail.
If you’re in the mood for nostalgia, we’ve got the perfect list for you, pandas. Eric Alper recently asked fellow Twitter users to share the little things they miss about their pre-internet lives, so sit back, relax and get ready to reminisce on the good old days!
We wanted to learn more about how this conversation started in the first place, so we reached out to Eric Alper via email, and lucky for us, he was kind enough to have a chat with Bored Panda. "I love using the internet, and specifically Twitter and Facebook, for good," he shared. "I really have no interest in creating or adding to the mess some corners of the platform are using it for, and as a publicist working in the music industry, I know people love talking about themselves."
"I started asking questions that were only positive, feel-good, fun and wholesome to offer a simple reminder that communication and just treating people nicely goes far," Eric continued. "So, instead of asking 'People old enough to remember life pre-Internet, what are some less obvious things you’re glad will never come back,' which can trigger or conjury up negative feelings, it’s all about what’s cool that you remember doing before all of this."
We were also curious how much Eric remembers about pre-internet life. "I remember going outside, playing with my friends or going to their houses, and parents not having any clue where we were," he told Bored Panda. "It was so bad that at 11pm, the TV stations would ask if they knew where their children were as a REMINDER that they had kids. Bizarre."
And as for the responses to his initial tweet, Eric says he read almost all of them, purely for his own entertainment. "I related to almost all of them, and I’m surprised we’re all still here, in one slightly somewhat hilariously damaged piece," he added.
And although there are things Eric sometimes misses, he seems to have made peace with how technology has progressed. "There’s always going to be the generation that came before that will claim they had it better," he noted. "In fact, I’m sure cavepeople and their kids were complaining to each other about what life was like before fire, when food tasted cold and they like it that way. But, as I look around at my own family, with two dogs at my side, talking to the fab Bored Panda, this is a very good life I wouldn’t trade up."
On April 30, 1993, the World Wide Web became available to the general public, forever changing the trajectory of our world. Today, over 5 billion people on the planet use the internet, and 60% of the world’s web traffic comes from cell phone users. We shop online, read the news online, keep up with our friends online, work online, order food to be delivered through apps, and many of us have even incorporated the internet into our watches, home appliances and cars. And while it’s almost impossible to imagine our lives without the internet at this point, plenty of people have actually experienced a life before Facebook and Google existed. And it wasn’t half bad.
I have to admit that I never knew a world without the internet, pandas. Of course, it was very different when I was a child, and I still remember the very first time I saw a YouTube video. But there was never a time when I was a kid, or at least not when I was old enough to remember, that our home didn’t have a computer in it. Back then, it was one bulky desktop that my parents kept in their bedroom, and I was only allowed to use for very limited amounts of time to play games. But it still kept me from ever knowing true boredom or being amazed by how technology has advanced since then.
As you can see from the responses on this list, and what you may remember about your own life, days before the internet were simpler, and perhaps even much more peaceful. Dating was limited to people you actually met in person, or blind dates you were set up on through friends, rather than swiping through endless options on apps where individuals can curate their personas and photoshop their pics. Hanging out with friends hinged on verbal agreements or spontaneously running into one another at your “spots,” and parents had to trust their little ones to come home when they told them to.
I have to admit, however, that I cannot imagine traveling without having a smartphone. I’m well aware that I’m young and spoiled, but Google Maps is a godsend. Trying to find a location based on paper maps and an address alone sounds like an incredible feat for someone in Gen Z to accomplish. But along with the convenience of apps and smartphones comes the unfortunate reality that we’ll never get to experience what life was like without them.
According to Valerie Forgeard at Brilliantio, one of the great luxuries of life before we had constant access to the internet was having more free time and fewer distractions. If we were at home trying to accomplish a task, we couldn’t simply start scrolling on our phones or watching YouTube videos. Nothing would interrupt us unless the phone rang or someone physically showed up. And people had to value conversations with one another, otherwise there was no way of knowing what friends and family members had been up to since you last saw them. We also had to discuss politics and news in person, in case we hadn’t all read the paper that day. We weren’t bombarded with constant information and distractions.
We also had longer attention spans before being presented with endless streams of information. One study found that topics that quickly gather widespread attention from the public have been losing traction faster and faster over time. “For example, a 2013 Twitter global trend would last for an average of 17.5 hours, contrasted with a 2016 Twitter trend, which would last for only 11.9 hours,” Dream McClinton wrote for The Guardian. We have access to so much information that we can’t stay fixated on anything for too long, otherwise it’s already old news. And while this trend started at least a century ago, experts say it has only gotten worse and worse since the internet permeated our lives.
Back in the day, we couldn’t immediately Google everything we wanted to know. We had to actually be curious about things, while today we’re used to instant gratification, which isn’t always a great thing. According to Pamela Li at Parenting for Brain, getting what we want right when we want it can actually be worse for us than having to exercise patience. A classic example of this is the marshmallow test from the 1960s, which involved researchers asking preschoolers whether they would rather have one marshmallow immediately or wait to have two later. Those who could wait the longest before eating marshmallows had better outcomes all the way into their adolescence, reporting higher SAT scores, better social skills, better emotional coping, greater self-control, as well as being less prone to temptation, more intelligent and better at concentrating.
While we might not find anything wrong with immediately Googling the year that famous event took place or that one actor’s name that’s on the tip of your tongue, seeking instant gratification in certain aspects of our lives can actually be dangerous. Li writes that the desire to have things as soon as possible is what often leads teenagers to engage in risky behaviors such as shoplifting and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. These provide an immediate reward, but they aren’t without consequences.
There are pros and cons to the advancement of technology, of course, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that life certainly wasn’t bad before the internet. We didn’t have social media to help us keep up with our high school and college friends, but we also didn’t have influencers telling us how to dress and allowing us to compare ourselves to unattainable standards. It may have been harder to meet people you were genuinely interested in dating, but today, many people’s standards have become unrealistic due to the illusion of having endless options. Obviously, we love the internet here at Bored Panda, we wouldn’t exist without it! But that doesn’t mean our lives were missing out before its creation.
Just because certain things have become much less common since the internet became widely available doesn’t mean that they have to be phased out completely. Take dating, for example. Sure, it may be extremely common nowadays to meet partners on apps or websites, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to strike up a conversation with someone you fancy at a coffee shop or the library. If you miss the good old days of being disconnected, don’t use social media, and don’t be scared to leave your phone at home when you go for a walk. Personally, I’m a huge fan of leaving mine on airplane mode when I don’t want any distractions. Without any notifications coming in, there’s no need to check it!
We hope you’re enjoying this trip down memory lane, pandas, if you’re old enough to remember those pre-internet days. Despite all of these things we may have lost, we’ve gained many more opportunities with the growth of technology, so we’ll try to focus on the positives. But we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments below. What do you miss about those simpler times? Then, if you’re interested in checking out another Bored Panda article that will make you nostalgic, we recommend reading this one next!