What Was Life Like Before Social Media?
A Glance at Growing Up Generation X
I was born into Generation X and grew up in the 80’s. We did the craziest shit back then. Life was fascinating before social media. It was filled with things you could hear, see, touch, smell and taste.
We talked to each other in person. We hung out physically and went to places together opposed to visiting one another online. Passing notes in class and the euphoric feeling when you opened the mailbox and there was snail mail waiting for you. Letters from distant pen pals and magazines with pretty pictures of things you had never seen before — minus the pop up ads.
We used pencil and paper.
We captured memories with Polaroid cameras.
When we had an issue we turned to therapy, not Facebook.
We had more time. Time for reading books, time for creating things with our hands. Time to clear our minds. Time to value and appreciate relationships. The intensity and connection you felt from the value of a few dear friends passing notes in class opposed to 2K followers on Instagram, and superficial engagement.
The library was our (secret) bad-ass place to meet up and hang out.
I wrote all of my fucked up feelings in journals I saved in a box.
Life was mysterious because everything we did wasn’t open and available to people we didn’t even really know. I would take showers, eat food and it was this private thing, my own thing and there was no competition in doing it.
We didn’t wake up in the morning to horrid push notifications about politics and the world going to shit inducing panic and rage. We didn’t have round the clock access to millions of opinions.
We had the opportunity to be curious about the world and seek out answers on our own using old school resources such as the set of encyclopedias we had at home. That was back in the day when encyclopedia sales were door to door. Now there’s Quora for questions, which was launched by former Facebook employees.
We used our imaginations. When was the last time you set your tablet down to build a blanket fort or cardboard box igloo for no reason other than because you can? Play is important for growth even in adults, but we rarely make the time for it to happen. Instead we decompress after a hard day through our thumbs by scrolling.
I believe we were more educated back then as well. There weren’t algorithms determining what we should and should not know. Just because I was curious about one thing didn’t mean that’s all I cared about. Now if I Google something it’s the only thing fed to me in the background of social media platforms.
Generation X’s journalism was real and true. Reporters and journalist would go out, chase the story, hunt for answers and bring the truth back to the people via print on our doorsteps and newsstands.
This medium still exists but now we ignore it. It’s been replaced with the convenience of online flash news apps regardless of whether or not we have to question it’s value.
What pressures of jealousy? Envy statistics were way down back then, and FOMO was nonexistent. If someone out there in the world went on a cruise to the Bahamas or lost 60 pounds on a kale juicing diet I had no idea it was happening and therefore I felt better about myself.
We were satisfied with what we had. There was no desire to step into the staged photos of people’s lives presented to us on Instagram. We valued our time over materialism. Gen X was emulous.
Date night! That’s right. There was courtship, and dinner and dancing on Saturday nights. Every time the rotary phone rang in the kitchen my heart would jump. We’d wait all week to see each other again. It took years to get serious because the only way to really learn about one another was to invest face to face time. We couldn’t stalk one another on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Reddit.
Relationship status meant nothing, nor were we able to leave online reviews of our date nights together.
I was a real person back then. We were real people. It was captivating and intriguing and I regret not realizing it when I had the chance, but how was I to know what the future would hold? There wasn’t internet yet, or personal computers.
Now we live in a completely different era where everyone is connected at all times. We have access to the entire world right at our finger tips and although it is rather cool, I sure do miss the old days. Now we can follow the GPS location of our friends on Snapchat and well, that’s intrusive.