A 20-something blogger posted an interesting and fun post, “20 Questions I have for people who were in their 20s before cell phones and the internet.” I’m forty, and I got my first email address in college. I could only access it through the computers in one of the two computer labs on campus. My little Apple iie was not equipped for the internet or useful for much at all, actually.
In my senior year, I got a PC in my apartment and an AOL account. I got my first cell phone with my first job. And get this: It only made phone calls, but it did have voicemail! (Seriously, we considered that a plus.)
Anyway, I found the questions fun and her commentary entertaining and insightful. I highly recommend you read the whole thing, but here are my answers to her questions.
1. How did you make plans? In person or by phone. Did people get stood up? Not frequently, because you had to plan for contingencies. Yes, we all had that one friend who was constantly late or a no-show, but they didn’t stay a friend — or at least an invited friend — for long.
2. How did you CANCEL plans? See above. Yes, things went wrong, but it was 20 years ago not the dark ages. If you couldn’t cancel before your friend got to said event, you could always call the venue and page her. Unless for some reason the venue was a big field in the middle of nowhere, in which case I’m thinking getting stood up is the least of your worries.
3. How did you know who was calling you before you picked up the phone? Yes, we lived on the edge. Like the pioneers of old who knew not what was over the next hill or from where their next meal would come, we bravely picked up phones without prior knowledge. AND the phone was more often than not tethered to the wall. Sometimes you didn’t want other people in the room to know who you were talking to. We were good at playing it cool.
4. How did you rid of the fear that is calling people? Like jumping off the high dive, it got easier with practice. Personally, I worked at the family business as a teenager. Part of my job was calling businesses (and individuals) who were late on their payments or had sent bad checks. It killed that fear pretty quick. “Pay up, buster! I need some new ripped and faded jeans!” (Everything old is new again.)
Below are some reasons responsible for male erectile dysfunction. cheap india cialis It is short-term erectile purchase viagra in uk problem and recovers without medication. Sports injury Physiotherapists are highly skilled side effects viagra greyandgrey.com and experienced experts in the management of sports injuries and musculoskeletal dysfunction. It focuses on removing dysfunctional viagra prescription for woman emotions, behaviors and cognition through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure.
5. How did you find out information about people before you went on dates with them? I didn’t date complete strangers. I dated people in my circle, or at least tangential to my circle, and people talked. Gossip, the original Google.
6. How did you find people to date in the first place??? This baffles me. Do you not interact with people? Class, work, church, coffee shop, the park, the bookstore, etc. Are all 20 somethings really just sitting in solitude surfing the web all day and night? How very sad. Go join something! Also, people were very into setting you up with their friend/brother/cousin/random dude they met on the bus.
7. How did you keep tabs on exes? See the answer to number 5: people talked/gossip. Even if you didn’t want to know, somebody somewhere thought you should. Of course, this happens now, just digitally. No matter what the technology, people are still just people.
8. How did you keep tabs on what your entire graduating class from high school was doing? I kinda wish I’d never opened this particular can of worms. Ignorance is bliss.
9. How did you look for jobs? Back in the day, we had these weird publications that came out daily called, “newspapers.” They had a section of advertisements labeled “Help Wanted.” Sometimes we had to cold-call a business if we wanted a job there. But I got my first real job the old fashioned way: I knew someone who knew of an internship, and I wheedled my way in. That internship got renewed, and then got me a job interview at the organization. Networking is still your best bet.
10. How did your parents get in touch with you when you were out? I think parenting in that day in age was probably one big anxiety attack. But even as a kid, I knew my parents had special abilities to tell what I’d been up to just by looking at me. Also: parents talk, too. The human race is just a bunch of old (and young) gossips.
11. How did your survive waiting for meetings, appointments, trains, or anything without being able to pass time by pretending to look busy on your phone? Well, there were books and magazines and these huge, clunky monstrosities called Walkmans. But sometimes, and I know you won’t believe this, we talked to strangers. Crazy, I know. I can barely believe it, and I lived it.
12. How did you do ANYTHING at work before email? I know it’s hard to believe, but once upon a time phones were used to transmit voices. We could call someone if we needed something from them, and they would write that down on a piece of paper with a pen. And when all else failed, you could walk down the hall with a pen and notepad and have an impromptu meeting with your co-worker. And you would put copies of documents and memos in your co-workers (physical) mailbox. There was so much paper. And you had to keep everything, so there were rooms and rooms of filing cabinets. To paraphrase Satre, hell is piles and piles of paper.
13. How did you tell co-workers (or someone else you were meeting) that you were going to be late when you were stuck in traffic or stuck on some disabled subway car? I have to wonder how often you’re late that this is a reoccurring question. I’m not trying to judge, but perhaps you need better time management skills. Can I point you toward a Day Planner?
14. How did you sign up for classes at the gym? What’s this gym you speak of?
15. How did you know where you were or where you were going ever? Maps are magical, and, frankly, the advent of GPS has stolen that magic from our lives. (Also, you could stop and ask a local for directions, but the directions would always be wrong. It made life interesting!)
16. What did you have to do if you broke down on the side of the road? I worked in DC and lived in Northern Virginia, and every time I had a problem with my car, people stopped to help me. Yes, even in heartless DC. People are kinder and more quick to help than we think.
17. How did you always have change on you to use these pay phones? Yep. Planning for a night out included making sure you had emergency cash and change for the phone. That’s a habit that has served me well throughout life.
18. How did you research anything for school? Did you have to go through the Encyclopedia? Let me introduce you to my little friend, the card catalog. You could look up books by title, author, or subject. For periodicals (that’s a magazine or newspaper), you’d use the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. Copies were 10 cents each and had to be done by hand, so you’d better be danged sure you needed those 50 pages before you committed. Holy cow. How did we survive?
19. How did you find out about the weather? Oh my gosh. Let me tell you. We had to either watch the news people or listen to the radio blather on and on and on about all sorts of irritating and useless crap and THEN wait for the commercial for the two-minute weather segment. And God forbid you miss it because you’d have to wait another half hour. Seriously, it was awful. There was, of course, the option of going outside and checking for ourselves, but that’s just crazy talk.
20. How did you stay in touch with friends? Your friends were, by necessity, those people you interacted with daily: your classmates, co-workers, or people at church or in the same clubs and activities. You talked when you saw each other, but you had to call and talk with your good friends. It was time-consuming, so it was a smaller pool but deeper, I think.
Those are my answers. It really drives home the trade-offs new technologies bring, neither all bad nor all good. I wonder what 20 somethings will be asking Samantha in 20 years. How would you answer these questions? Who had it better, 20 somethings now or 20 somethings 20+ years ago?