The answer to what people did before the Internet

I’ve had many conversations with friends following the general theme of “What did people do before the Internet?” How did people get around, how did they read the news, how did they get mail, how did they talk to their friends, how did they check their bank balance, how did they amuse themselves? There’s no denying that the internet, and particularly smart phones, are extremely useful. I don’t need to tell you why. You know.

However, I just watched a viral Youtube video which made me question the validity of my awe at the way people lived before the internet. Honestly, I assumed that their lives were more complicated and less fun. But if I really think about it, they were more earnest.

People would have taken in the world around them. They would have studied the people sitting in front of them on the train, caught a glimpse of a stranger’s eyes. They would have sent hand-written letters instead of hasty, abbreviated texts. They would have talked to someone they liked, instead of adding them on Facebook. They would have had less pictures, but probably more memories. Less conveniences, but more opportunities to meet people and see things. They would have known each other more intimately, rather than knowing how many likes someone gets. There would have been party invitations, real, physical pieces of paper. Probably less bitching, because we’re all braver on the internet than in real life. More books would have been read, and grammar and literacy wouldn’t have gone down the toilet hole. Wouldn’t it be more fulfilling to look down at your body, with scars and freckles and wrinkles, and know that you actually lived your life in the moment, rather than scrolling through your “conversations” with people and looking at the “lol’s” (which you wrote with no intention of laughing out loud) you shared with them?

I’m a culprit of the modern life-stealer. I’m as bad as everyone with their heads bent over a phone. But I want to change, and I will.

I’ll read a book on the tram instead of scrolling mindlessly. I’ll call my friends instead of texting them (or write letters). I already use disposable cameras, which are one hundred times more satisfying to use than a digital camera. I have a little anecdote I must go on a tangent with. Until recently, I had an external hard drive with everything on it; my music, my documents, and most importantly, my photos. I dropped it one night, and it stopped working. Everything was wiped. I was devastated. But luckily, since my teens I have been using disposable cameras and placing the photos in a photo album (yes, an actual book of photos). So, while I lost hundreds of photos, I still had the physical ones which can never be lost in that way. And looking through that photo album is so much more special than clicking through infinite photos on my laptop. Every photo is precious on an analogue camera, and therefore the memories are more special. So buy a film camera and use it! Tangent over.

I’m going to live in the moment and appreciate everything before my eyes turn into iPhone-shaped rectangles.


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