When I think back to my childhood, I’m grateful for a time when technology hadn’t been as nearly prevalent in our lives. We weren’t surrounded by a screen for a significant amount of the day, and we cherished the moments of going to the cinema to watch a film or played outside in the grass. Children didn’t have any phones in their hands, and there were more eye contact and in-person interaction. We’d hop on over to the neighbour’s house, bounce on the trampolines to play and walk to the beach together. If the internet disappeared tomorrow, what would happen?
There were always shelves of books at home, and almost every weekend we would stop at the local library to borrow books. If I wasn’t practising my flute or piano, playing with the animals or walking around the farm, I’d be reading a book, drawing a picture or playing with my toys. The difference now is that children grow up playing games on a screen, interacting with one another through online and are growing up learning through technology. I felt that we still experienced that feeling in a classroom with only a pen and paper, writing our essays by hand.
Til this day, even at university, I prefer writing with a pen to paper. There are certain things that are still preferred without the internet, such as reading a book or a magazine. There’s nothing quite like having the physical element of a book and being able to flip through each page. Before technology became what it is, life seemed far more innocent and thinking back, we spent a lot of time outdoors running around, and more time talking to strangers. The lack of technology meant there was no form of escapism, and so everyone would talk to one another.
When there were moments that you wanted to escape, you’d draw or read a book in class. I’m sure children now have just as many hobbies, however, I can’t help feel that back then the lack of screens meant that we spent more time exploring with our imagination, and trying new things. We’d spend time going to drawing classes, going to ballet classes, learning new instruments, learning new languages and spending our time experimenting what we like and don’t like, and finding our own unique ways to entertain ourselves and use our time.
In many ways, it was far more polite back then, because if you think about it, anyone who uses their phone constantly when they’re with other people, are not really presently there with them. Creativity meant writing little stories, going outside to explore nature and always craving a sense of learning. It meant researching and getting books out to do your projects. I still remember listening to Beethovens Tape to sleep, and the fact that there is barely anyone who still listens to the tape, even though it was only over 10 years ago.
Simplicity and interactivity would be the two things that I think of, that have changed in a drastic way. The way we interact with people has changed immensely, and the simplicity of life has become noisier with the chaotic nature of the online world. In anything, there requires a balance, as too much excess of anything makes it a negative. This means Social Media, the internet and the online digital world can have their positives, but it’s all a matter of balance. We live in a time where things are changing at a rapid rate.
We live in a time where businesses rely heavily on having the internet, students need the internet in order to do research and individuals have the internet to stay connected to news, entertainment and socialising. The moments the internet decides to say goodbye for an hour or two, that’s when I realise that the things I do go back to reading, listening to music, going outside for a walk or writing on paper. They go back to the things that we’d do if there was no internet. Communication was learned through a different way growing up, compared to the way it is now. Even though I was painfully shy, I was forced to interact with people, which is the natural way.
Meeting people (whether friends or dating) were done in person, sending an email meant sitting down to write a letter and going to the post office to send it and calling a friend meant sitting on a chair where the phone had a wire on it. There was a sense of greater patience we had because the internet is so greatly convenient and fast. I still remember rather than spending 2 hours online, we’d spend 2 hours playing with the cat or going out to slide down the hills on cardboard boxes. There was a sense of innocence. There was a sense of still not knowing many things, but now with the internet children can know things from such a young age.
Remembering life before the internet was a part of our lives reminds us of how much has changed. It reminds us to stay true to our own core values in a trending world. It reminds us that no one used to know what someone was eating on a Saturday night, until the week after when they would tell you in person all about the delicious meal they cooked. It meant meeting someone in person, before knowing what they looked like from a photo or their profile. It meant playing games together, rather than sitting in a circle looking down at a screen. I miss those elements of simplicity and not knowing everything, but each period of time is a different stage in history, and this is just one of them.
Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964)