As time progresses, it gets harder to believe that many of us once lived without an e-mail address or a way for people to contact us via the assortment of social media platforms that are around today. At one point in time we had to wait patiently (or impatiently) for a lot of things that can now be done from the comfort of your home or via your smartphone anywhere you go. Arkansas hasn’t let the Internet completely overtake our social lives, but you can certainly tell how much different the world is now with the Internet as an integral part of daily life!
10. We tripped over phone cords.
Even when we first got the Internet here in Arkansas in the mid '90s, we had a dial-up connection and the phone jack cord was an issue. However, when the telephone was our primary means of communication around the Natural State, it seems like cords were ubiquitous. If you had a talkative teenager in the house, you usually tripped over the phone cord or receiver cord at least once while they had it stretched all the way into their room for privacy. At least when the Internet came along all the wires stayed behind the computer instead of traveling around the house.
9. People went to the post office a lot more.
If the bank lines weren't bad enough, the Arkansas post office lines in the days before the Internet were extremely boring. Thank goodness for e-mail. Say what you will about the Internet's bad influence on society, but as long as everyone we know has an e-mail address, we'll continue to save money on stamps and cut down on trips to the post office.
8. We watched a ton of cable television on an actual TV.
There's always something that absorbs the attention of every generation here in Arkansas. Before there was cable, kids and couch potatoes sat around the TV, fiddled with the antenna, and got yelled at for watching too much television. By the time cable rolled around, parents gave up on the losing battle and let the kids and couch surfers fill their heads with the Disney Channel, MTV, and Nickelodeon. What's so different about that now? You don't even have to have a TV to watch cable. You don't even have to have cable to watch your favorite cable network shows. Netflix, Hulu, and other Internet startups are seeing to that!
7. People marveled at one-hour photo processing.
Film! That's another thing you don't see much of around Arkansas anymore unless you know a lot of professional photographers. We should have seen the rise of digital cameras as the nadir of one hour photo processing's novelty, but it was the smartphone and the Internet's instant gratification of social media uploading that made one-hour photo kiosks about as important as a store rack full of road maps, (considering so many people have a GPS in their car and Google Maps at their fingertips.)
6. We marveled at people with camcorders.
I'm not even sure if people under the age of 20 know what a camcorder even is, but boy, you sure were hot stuff if you were walking around at an Arkansas family outing with one of RCA or Canon's bulky shoulder-mount camcorders. They made you look like someone professional from Channel 7 News as you caught the kids on camera falling off the swings at Burns Park. These days, it's a lot easier to get personal mishaps on film...and sometimes I wonder if it was better when we could actually see people filming us.
5. We taped music from the radio.
Ah, radio. I don't know what clutters the kids' rooms these days, but before the Internet and Spotify and XM Sirius, there were cassette tapes full of awesome FM radio music all over my room. In Little Rock, we had stations such as 98.5 (before the B), 94.1 (when classic rock didn't yet include Nirvana,) Cool 95 for the oldies, and Magic 105 for the deep cuts. A TDK tape was always ready to capture whatever song I wanted on my mixtape, and as far as getting the right songs, well, like Tom Petty would say ; "the waiting is the hardest part."
4. We learned how to work with VCRs.
If you knew how to set the VCR to record your mom's soap operas and your favorite Saturday morning cartoons when you were young, you were pretty much an Arkansas child prodigy. It was enough to have to reset the time on it whenever the power went off and came back on for some people, though--otherwise, you'd get that blinking 12:00 forever. Then if you were a budding video editor, you knew the real trick was to cut out the commercials by pressing 'pause' once they started...and you had to unpause it to resume recording. (Several minutes of great movies and cartoons were missed on our VHS tapes because someone forgot to press 'pause' again.) Oh, the days before Netflix were grand.
3. We waited in extremely long bank lines.
These days you can snap a picture of a check with your smartphone and deposit your money without even having to leave the house, and instead of having to wait on hold or--perish the thought--in line to find out how much money you had in your account, Arkansans can log on to the bank's website and see their standing. Far different from the long lines we had to endure with our parents before the Internet. The Internet doesn't give your kid a lollipop at the end of the bank transaction, though.
2. People had dashboards full of maps.
Before there were GPS systems holding our hands through traffic in unknown places, people relied on road maps which were hopefully up to date before the road trip began! Back in the day, a tell-tale sign of a well traveled person was the dashboard of their car; if there were folded maps strewn everywhere, you were looking at a real Arkansas traveler.
1. People visited daily with neighbors.
Many Arkansans still take a moment to exchange plesantries with the folks next door, but it's easier nowadays to send off an e-mail or send a message on Facebook rather than go knocking on a neighbor's door just to chat on a daily basis.
How far back does your memory go, Arkansas? What did you do before the Internet came and overtook society? Share in the comments about how life around the Natural State was different before we stared at our computers and smartphones all the time!