I love technology like the internet and cell phones, I really do. But I’ve been a little nostalgic lately. Maybe it’s because the holidays are so rapidly approaching and life just seems to be busier and more hectic. Technology is a wonderful thing and has made our lives richer and more convenient in so many ways. But it makes me wonder sometimes – what did we do before everything was online and at our fingertips?
I worry sometimes that we are so busy looking at screens, that we forget to look at the world around us. Although I have to add, based on getting to know many of my readers through comments, posts and emails, I feel that many Virginians do take advantage of the beauty around them on a daily basis. So many of you are adventurers, historians and explorers and I love knowing that you’re all getting out there are taking advantage of our beautiful state.
In the meantime, here are a few of the things I remember doing a lot more often before technology did many of them for me…
1. We played games.
One of my best childhood memories was playing Yahtzee with my grandmother. These days, it seems games get played on computers and phones more often than not. But it always makes me happy when I hear about families or friends’ that have regular game nights.
2. Shopping was a special event.
My mom remembers making trips as a girl from her small town in Southside Virginia to Richmond several times a year to shop at Thalhimers or Miller and Rhodes. It was a big deal and they would make a whole day of it. Now, in the days of internet ease and Amazon Prime, it’s oftentimes simpler to shop with the click of a button. And it is convenient, I must admit. But I hope I never lose the magic of special shopping trips, especially when I can support my local business.
3. We stopped and asked for directions.
Before we could zoom in on any point on the map with a few clicks of the mouse or “ask Siri” how to get places, we had to stop and ask directions if we were lost. Remember pulling over at a gas station and asking the attendant how to get somewhere only to be given directions based solely on landmarks?
4. We used a phone book.
And if you were from a small town like me, you recognized most of the names in it.
5. And we remembered phone numbers.
With cell phone contacts and easy online look-ups, we don’t even know our closest friends’ numbers sometimes. And remember when your only area code options were 540, 804, 703 or 757?
6. We played with toys.
Instead of building cities with Minecraft, we built houses with Lincoln Logs and our “Mario Kart” was a collection of Matchbox cars or our bikes.
7. We listened to the records, tapes and CDs.
Remember how exciting it was when your favorite band put out a new album and you would rush to the store to buy it? Or how impressed you were with your best friend’s massive tape collection? Now it seems our music is sold, streamed and stored on devices smaller than the mix tapes we used to spend hours making.
8. We watched TV shows in real-time
When I was in college, we would get together faithfully for “Must-See TV” every Thursday night. And if you missed it, you simply had to wait until re-runs came on. I love being able to watch shows on DVR or online, but I also miss having a standing appointment with friends or family for special shows.
9. We went to the movie rental store.
Sometimes the trip to Blockbuster was more exciting than the movie itself. There was something satisfying about walking the rows of movies and finding the perfect one – or at least the one that everyone could agree on.
10. We went to the library to research things.
Don’t get me wrong, the internet saves us A LOT of time and effort and I am so grateful for it. But sometimes, I miss the act of sitting at a table surrounded by a pile of books.
11. Or better yet, remember these?
12. We read the newspaper. The print version, that is.
The Richmond Times Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot, The Roanoke Times, The Bristol Herald-Courier and many other local and regional papers still bring us the news every day. But now, we don’t have to wait until someone else is done with the section we want, we can just look it up online. Again, convenient, but silly putty prints don’t work as well on a computer screen.
13. We went out exploring.
Whether it was in Williamsburg or Mount Vernon, hiking Old Rag or climbing Birch Knob, we didn’t just read about cool places online – we went out and saw them. Although I can gladly say that, based on all of my amazing readers’ posts and comments, Virginians haven’t stopped this wonderful habit!
14. We knew what was going on in our friends’ lives because we talked to them – and not just on Facebook.
I have to admit, I do love being able to keep up with friends and family far and wide thanks to the internet. But I also need to do a better job of picking up the phone more often to say “hi” in person.
15. We had actual photo albums and scrapbooks.
Online photo albums are wonderful and it’s great to be able to share pictures through email and other online forums. But it’s hard to beat sitting down with an actual photo album and talking about all the memories it contains.
How many of these things to you and your family still do? We would love to hear about the things, little or big, that you find have changed thanks to technology – and what things you’ve chosen to keep the same. Let us know in the comments below!