That being said, Montana was certainly a simpler place before the internet existed. And while some things haven’t changed much, we certainly entertain and inform ourselves in different ways. These 10 things were more common before the internet took over our lives.
1. We stopped by each other's houses unannounced, just to say hello.
Some people might still do this with family and close friends on occasion. But before smartphones made it easy to announce a planned visit through several different social media channels, your loved ones only had one option: to call your home phone. If you didn’t answer, they might choose to stop by to let you know you were on their minds.
2. We had to take chances on hotel rooms, restaurants and other places of business.
There was no Yelp, TripAdvisor or Expedia to help us plan our outings. People relied on word of mouth or good luck. It may not have always worked out well, but it was definitely more adventurous. For the record, the hotel Baxter in Bozeman, pictured here, is a lovely place to stay.
3. We wrote each other letters.
Who remembers checking their mail eagerly anticipating a letter or a postcard from a friend? These days it’s much easier to fire off an email or send a Snapchat video than it is to pull out a paper and pen and hunt for a stamp.
4. We spent our childhoods outside.
Without their parents’ tablets or laptops to play on, kids were “forced” to go outside and play games with one another. On rainy days, there were books and board games awaiting them.
5. We went to the library to learn new things.
Researching for a high school or college paper was certainly a different ball game before the internet. People spent hours at the library looking at encyclopedias, history books, articles, and magazines hoping to find the sources they needed.
6. We went to video stores to rent movies.
No Netflix. No Redbox. Just Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and mom and pop movie shops.
7. We had real conversations about issues in person… or kept our opinions to ourselves.
Who hasn’t gotten involved in a silly Facebook argument over someone’s political meme or off-handed remark? Before the internet, those conversations were had face to face or they weren’t had at all. While there have been plenty of productive online discussions about the issues, when it comes to our friends and family, sometimes ignorance is bliss and we're better off not knowing everything.
8. We found more places by accident.
In many ways, the internet has been amazing in helping Montanans discover their state’s hidden gems. It has helped small business owners thrive and it has helped families make precious memories. But still, there’s something to be said for just getting in the car and driving until you discover a charming little town, a gorgeous swimming hole, the perfect cozy hotel, or the world’s greatest bakery entirely by accident.
9. We talked to our neighbors.
Montana still has its share of old-fashioned charm. If you move to a new neighborhood, you’re likely to meet your neighbors. But before the internet, more people sat on their front porches and talked to each other without staring at their smartphones.
10. We used payphones. A lot.
Because the idea of carrying a phone around with you at all times was totally unheard of.