11 Awkward Things You Did Before Social Media In The '90s
Hold onto your seats, teenagers: there was a time before social media. Shocking! I know. It's hard to believe we once existed, quite happily — and still able to disseminate and consume information or talk to our friends or look at photos — without Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat. But we did. And we did it well. Except for when we didn't do it so well. Before social media, the '90s were full of awkward social moments that, looking back, don't hold up well. In order to make a connection, you really had to work for it. It wasn't as easy as hitting an "add" or "like" or "follow" button on an app. You actually had to talk to people. And talking to people is sometimes super awkward, no matter what era you exist in.
The awkward things you did in the '90s aren't just limited to hair mascara and skirts over pants. They extend all the way to your human interactions, and the self-made social networks we made before social networks were online. If you want to see the silver lining, if the internet ever stops working for whatever reason, we'll have a generation of '90s kids who know how to social media without social media. Here are 11 awkward things you did before social media in the '90s.
1. Passing Notes In Class
Before you could @ or # someone, to let them know what you wanted them to know in 140 characters or less, you'd pass notes in class. Trying to make the notes as small and inconspicuous as possible, '90s kids had to get their message across in as few words as they could. Which makes us the original tweeters.
2. Keeping Shared Notebooks
Imagine a Burn Book but without all the nastiness (OK, sometimes nastiness, like if you found out Jane Smith called you a name behind your back so you needed to call out Jane Smith), and that was what '90s kids did before you could write on someone's wall. We'd have notebook groups, where anywhere from between two to four people who share a notebook, and take turns with it in class (it would be covertly passed from hand to hand in the hallway between classes), and we'd fill the pages with jokes, drawings of kittens and puppies, and our feelings. We were the original meme makers and we didn't even know it.
3. Three Way Phone Conversations
There's nothing more awkward than a three way phone conversation. You can never tell who's talking. People talk over each other making it super unproductive. Someone always accidentally drops the call. It's a nightmare. Thank God for group text, I suppose.
4. Leaving Cryptic Clues On The Bathroom Wall
When you needed to tell your friend something but wouldn't be seeing them until the end of the day, the bathroom wall was your savior. Of course, you had a secret language of words or symbols, and you'd leave clues for your friend to find considering you couldn't just ping them on Gchat.
5. Calling People On Their Landline
Awkward because when you were a teenager this meant you'd have to go through their parents first. And there's nothing worse than being a 15-year-old girl trying to call up your crush only to have his mother brusquely tell you she'll get him, but five minutes chat, max.
Psst, check out our podcast, The Chat Room, for more talk of the '90s!
6. Speaking In Pig Latin
Pig Latin was our private Snapchat message. Parents didn't get it, and we could say whatever we wanted.
7. Mailing Each Other Letters
In the '90s, instead of email, we just had regular mail. Awkwardly, sometimes you'd send pen pal style letters to your friends you saw every day, just because it was exciting to send and receive things in the post. Yes, it was a simpler time. Apologies to all the parents glitter bombed by envelopes filled with the stuff.
8. Printing Out Photos And Cutting Them Up Into A Big Collage
Before Instagram, you had to improvise with your photo collections. In the '90s, kids would print their photos, and cut them all up (often into creepy ways where half of someone's hair was cut off the top of their head, making everything look slightly wonky), and create glorious collages which would be tacked onto cork boards.
In the days before everyone was "checking in" to places online and you couldn't Instagram stalk someone to find out where they were and what they were doing, you'd drive by local hangouts, hoping to spot your crush. It sounds creepy, but it's no creepier than getting 300 weeks deep on the 'gram.
10. Writing Notes On Classroom Desks
Like bathroom walls, desks were your best friend when you wanted to tell your pals where to meet you at recess but weren't in the same class together. You'd leave your note written on the wood where you knew your friend would sit, and voilà! Also, it was so exciting to find a note left for you.
11. Keeping An Address Book
When there was no other way to contact your friends, and you couldn't just look them up by name on Facebook, you'd have to ask for their numbers and addresses, and you'd write them all down in an alphabetized address book. These days that kind of behavior would have people asking if you were a time traveler.