Children (and adults) of the ‘90s, prepare to feel like ancient, dried out husks. This morning, an AskReddit thread posed the question,“What are some things that kids today will never understand?” The answer: A LOT— essentially, all technology that existed prior to the birth of the internet and mobile communication. Although the reddit thread is a fun, nostalgic walk down memory lane, it is also guaranteed to make you feel like a wizened old grandparent, telling the young ’uns about the good old days when you had to re-wind audio cassettes with a pencil. (Do kids these days even use pencils? Or do they just do all of their first grade homework on an iPad? I am only half joking.)
I think most would agree that the rapid rise of cell phones, the internet, and social media have, for the most part, made our lives better and easier. Even folks who grew up without mobile phones would have a hard time these days going back to a time when all plans had to be hashed out in advance, and getting stuck somewhere meant finding a payphone. And yet, as amazing as these technological advances are, they have also created a gulf between those of us who experienced life “Before” and those who have only ever known the “After.” As someone in the “before” camp, it makes my brain hurt to realize that some of the most mundane experiences of my childhood and adolescence are things that would make no sense whatsoever to a 10-year-old in 2017. These are just a few, courtesy of AskReddit:
1. Basic language.
As redditor LillyYoyoINeedGogert pointed out in the AskReddit thread, remnants of earlier technology still exist in our language, even though the literal meanings of certain terms no longer make sense. For example, kids today will never understand...
My mind is blown.
2. Life before cell phones.
And trying to organize activities and get togethers without cell phones? SUCH a pain. Just getting picked up from the mall involved finding a working pay phone and the change to use it.
3. Smoking. INDOORS.
These days, the rare occasions when I'm around people smoking indoors feel so disorienting that it's easy to forget how often people smoked in restaurants and other public places when I was a kid.
4. The tragically short lifespans of Game Boy batteries.
The struggle was real.
5. Just how slow the internet used to be.
So. Very. Very. Slow.
6. Doing research without the internet.
Do you remember those massive periodical indexes at the library? You'd look up a general subject and then sort through all of the sub and sub-sub categories, and then get listings for all the magazines that mentioned your topic, and then you'd have to hunt down the magazines. Those books haunt my dreams.
7. Being lost constantly.
If you had no sense of direction to speak of (ahem, me), car trips — even short trips to unfamiliar parts of the city — could be horrific experiences in the days before GPS navigators or even sites like Mapquest. A gigantic road atlas was a common car staple.
There are a lot of things about previous decades that today’s kids will never understand, but it’s important to remember that that goes both ways — there are certainly things that kids do and say now that are completely, irrevocably above my head. For instance, the correct usage of the word “snap.” Is it a noun? Is it a verb? Both? I’m OK with never knowing.