Let’s go back to a simpler time. Bad hair. Acid-washed jeans. Jelly bracelets. Awkward teenage Amy with gigantic glasses and her nose in a book.
What was different about this time, other than Amy’s fashion sense (shh, don’t mention that her fashion sense hasn’t gotten much better, at least her jeans aren’t acid-washed now and her glasses are smaller) and the programs on television?
I was thinking the other day, after a conversation with Andreas about the FUUUUU-TURE, how awesome it is to be living in it.
(Andreas disagrees. Well, I think half-jokingly disagrees. Andreas wants moonstations and flying cars and is VERY DISAPPOINTED that these things haven’t come to pass. THEY WERE PROMISED TO A YOUNG ANDREAS DAMMIT. As a side note, I like to imagine a young Andreas. I think he would have been very opinionated and a joy to behold. Little intelligent kiddos are some of my favorite humans.)
Let’s think about how we USED to do things, and how we get to do them NOW. And then laugh at ourselves. Sadly.
HOW WE USED TO TALK TO EACH OTHER
Back in the day, if you wanted to keep in touch with a person who was far-away, you wrote to them. But you wrote LETTERS. With a PEN. And PAPER. And then you waited for them to respond. And it took FOREVER. This was not easy for those of us who needed instant gratification. Me. I mean me.
Young Amy wrote a LOT of letters. A LOT of them. To a lot of people. I’d write them in school and also at home and I think I might have single-handedly kept the postal service afloat from 1986 to 1992.
I also wrote notes to people I saw every day. I think maybe I was a blogger before I was a blogger. Someday someone’s going to find all those notes and letters and publish them and make a billion dollars off the collected letters of Lucy’s Football, aren’t they? Oh, I shudder to think. I can’t imagine they were exactly scintillating. And I think I might have used those colored gel pens for a while.
NOW, we can talk to someone IMMEDIATELY. With email or Facebook or Twitter or however you talk to your people, I don’t know. If I want to talk to someone halfway around the world I don’t have to send a letter and wait and wait and WAIT. I can type and they usually respond in a timely fashion. This is so much better for impatient Amy. SO much better.
When I first discovered the wonders of email back in…um…I want to say 1992? 1992-ish? Beginning of college. We had a whole computer LAB. And it was like the worst email program EVER, but it was VERY EXCITING. It was like a whole new world. I could talk to friend M. who was in college in a whole other TOWN like right AWAY. Also we played some sort of terrible roleplaying game where gross people would try to hit on you and then you would log out and then log back in and they were telling people you were married and it was all very confusing and there were no graphics. I was not very good at that.
Even BETTER, now that our phones are teeny-tiny computers, we can have our email and such with us EVERYWHERE. I don’t care about flying cars, Andreas. I get to take all of you with me in my purse EVERYWHERE I GO.
Also, even though letters in the mailbox are kind of the best thing (even now), I get just as excited seeing an email from one of my most beloveds in my email inbox. It doesn’t matter what format love comes in, my little pot pies. As long as you’re getting the love, it’s all the same and it’s all wonderful. Now with email, we can get that love more quickly and frequently. (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.)
HOW WE USED TO LEARN THINGS
Now, kids, gather ’round, and I will tell you a HORRIFYING STORY about the DAYS OF YORE. Where, if you were tasked with researching something, you had to look it up in the encyclopedia. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA! Or on MICROFICHE! Also, if you wanted to learn something ON YOUR OWN (very few of us wanted to do this) you had similar options. Encyclopedia. Or you asked someone if they know. People used to be like Wikipedia only less reliable. Plus you had to talk to people and who wants to TALK to people? Exactly.
One time I was doing a research project in high school and I had to get reams and reams of photocopied articles sent to me from a billion libraries in New York State and the librarian hated me because I was making her do all kinds of work. THIS IS HOW WE USED TO DO THINGS.
Now if you want to know something? Well. YOU HIT THE INTERWEBS.
Today I wanted to translate Fahrenheit to Celsius. You know how I did that? I typed “fahrenheit to celsius” into Google and they gave me a site where THAT WAS ALL IT DID. And I put in MY temperature and it popped it out as ANDREAS’ temperature. Could we have done that twenty-five years ago? No we could NOT have. (Also I didn’ t know Andreas 25 years ago. And also 25 years ago I lived up near Canada so our themometers all had both measurements on them, so I suppose I could have found out that way, but that is BESIDE THE POINT.)
I know, we’re all nostalgic about libraries. Well, they’re still there, and books are still there for you. But I don’t know that anyone’s nostalgic for the waste of time researching shit on microfiche or in encyclopedias was. NO ONE. My time is very important to me. I never have enough of it. Think of all the things I wouldn’t have time to learn if we didn’t have the internet! And oh, oh, oh do I love to learn things. I love to learn new things EVERY DAY. Sometimes MULTIPLE things! And I CAN!
HOW WE USED TO LISTEN TO THINGS
If you wanted music, you went to the store and you bought it. If you were fancy (I was not fancy) you watched MTV and I guess you knew when the albums were coming out. I did not get MTV because that was cable. We did not have cable. We got something called Video Hits on Canadian television. It was not good. And if I remember correctly, the host had terrible hair.
Yep, I remember correctly. He did. Also, MAN, was he falsely cheerful.
Anyway, so you went to the store and you bought the album (on tape, or if – like my store often was – they were out of tapes, you bought it on vinyl, which they still stocked) and then you listened to it. On a Walkman. Or on your boombox.
Now if you like a song, you can listen to it for FREE over and over and over online and then you can download it, if you want. And you can listen to it on your teeny-tiny iPod or whatever you listen to your music on. (I don’t even have an iPod. I can’t afford one. Shush, I know, I have a billion CDs instead. I do have a terrible off-name-brand MP3 player but it won’t load any new music so it’s all stuff I loved five years ago. Which I still love, but it never changes, so that’s a little sad.)
Again, the instant gratification of this makes me very happy.
HOW WE USED TO WATCH THINGS
If you missed a television show back in the old days, too bad, bub, you were shit out of luck. We got a VCR when I was in…um…high school, maybe? The remote was attached with a cord. It was a Betamax. We thought we were living the high life, yo.
(SIDE NOTE: my brother found that old VCR a while ago and tried to make it work. Yes, apparently we are hoarders in my family and still have outdated technology from 25 years ago just sitting around. “Well? Did you make it work?” I said. “Yep. Guess what was in there? A Beauty and the Beast tape. Remember that show? That tape’s stuck in there and won’t come out, but it plays just fine. So if we want to watch all the Beauty and the Beast, I guess we could do that. Why did we tape that show? She was a LAWYER. Who was in love with a BEAST. Who lived in the SEWER. You know what he would smell like? SEWER. So THAT would be romantic,” my brother said. He makes me laugh, that brother of mine.)
Now we have OPTIONS. We can DVR them or we can watch them LEGALLY online or we can watch them ILLEGALLY online (don’t do this, of course, cough cough) or we can read recaps online or we can ask our people what happened or any of a million things. ANY of a million things.
You can probably do this with movies, too. I’ve never illegally watched a movie online. It seems like a lot of work and could totally give you a virus. More so than a short television show. LISTEN SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO SEE SHERLOCK AND YOU CANNOT WAIT TIL IT COMES TO MERKA OK?
I’ve decided this post really is a celebration of instant gratification. I promise I like some slow things, too. Like…um…roasts. And kissing. And…um…slow lorises.
HOW WE USED TO BUY THINGS
Too bad for YOU if you lived in a small town with only a KMart! THAT IS WHERE YOU BOUGHT YOUR THINGS. Also sometimes you could mailorder some things from Sears. That was it. Our lives were all about the things we wanted but knew we would never ever have. YOU HAD NOTHING AND YOU LIKED IT.
HA HA NOT NOW SUCKERS! You want it, you find it online, you buy it. Well, if you can afford it, I suppose. NOTHING IS BEYOND OUR GRASP.
It makes me kind of sad that people growing up have always HAD these things. I’m not saying I want people to suffer through adversity or anything, just that it’s a lot easier to appreciate these things when you grew up with technology that barely worked, if ever, and it was so stinkin’ SLOW.
I realize that in writing this I sound like a cranky old person saying “back in MY day” and I suppose I kind of am. Don’t even care. I just think of sad lonely little young-Amy scribbling a million letters to faraway loved ones and waiting waiting waiting for responses and I so wish she could see this. She’d love this. She would be VERY pleased with this future.
Also she’d be very keen on precooked bacon. Can’t blame her, really. It is kind of the best. THANK YOU FUTURE!