Life Before 'The Net'

Last week there was a lot of buzz around the 25th anniversary of the Internet.

As I sat there reading an article from my Twitter feed, streaming music from my Songza account, checking my e-mails and chatting on Skype, I thought to myself “What did we do before the Internet?”

How did we know what was going on in the world? How did we watch movies? How did we pay our bills or book a flight?

This may sound crazy to those of you who did all of these things before the Internet.  You’re probably thinking – “What do you think we did? We read the newspaper, we went to the video store and we went to the bank teller or picked up the phone.”  But let’s face it; we just don’t do that anymore.  

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 I think we got Internet when I was in the fifth grade. Granted then it was dial-up and if someone picked up the phone to make a call, you were disconnected and had to listen to the painful noises of getting re-connected all over again.  There were no cell phones either, so you had to use the landline to make your calls. The only person with a cell phone back then was Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell.  

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I may be 27, but my elementary school days were basically Internet free. I have memories of busting out my parents’ old dictionary (that was almost the same size as me) to look up a definition; or, rummaging through one of the 26 encyclopedias trying to dig-up some information for a social-studies project.

I remember getting so excited when ‘The Bookmobile’, the travelling library, would come to school and I would finally have the chance to get my hands on the newest Berenstain Bears book; or the excitement I felt when my mom bought new blank tapes and I could finally record the ‘Top 9 at 9’ off the radio that night.

The Internet has completely changed the way we live our lives and it’s certainly made life a lot easier for most of us.  Don’t have time to go out and shop around for all those Christmas gifts? No problem, hop online and get it done while never leaving your couch. Can’t stay up to watch your favorite 11pm show?  Stream it over coffee the next morning.  The conveniences of modern day life make it almost impossible to remember life pre-internet.

Everything felt so exciting and there was so much mystery! Children growing up today will never know life before the Internet. My kids may never get to know the feeling of running to the mailbox on their birthday to check for new cards; or waking up on a Saturday morning with nothing better to do then watch Saturday morning cartoons and play cops and robbers in the yard all day.

It’s without question that the Internet has changed the world as we know it, and I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years have in store for us.

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