What would any of us do without the Internet? I’m pretty sure the younger generations would simply be at a loss in many situations if, for whatever reason, we were all suddenly without Internet access. The Internet has become the main resource of our world. So many of our lives depend on having access to the World Wide Web. From business to education to social interaction; the Internet has completely changed the way we function as a society. But what did we do before the entire world was at our fingertips in an instant? Well…everything required a bit more time, a lot more effort, and more tasks spent outside of the house.
15 The Library
The library was definitely a much more active place before the Internet. It was more than a place to go rent free DVDs when you’re low on funds. (Do people even still do that?! I mean…Netflix.) If you had a school project, report, paper, or any college work to be done…you had to go to the library to get your information: Unless you were lucky enough to have parents who owned a fairly recent collection of encyclopedias. Otherwise, it was spending your days after school (maybe even Saturdays) at the library. Getting to the library wasn’t the tough part though. Once you got there, tables were rarely available and there was always the possibility that the books you needed would be in use or… checked out. Ugh.
Speaking of encyclopedias, has anyone used one lately? Have the people born after 1995 even seen one? In case you’ve never used/seen/heard of an encyclopedia, they are pretty much big books that are the paper version of the Internet. Except the information they hold is limited and usually at least a little outdated. Oh, and they’re super expensive. Sounds great, right?
13 Passing Notes
As long as we’re talking about those school aged years, remember when passing notes was the only way to communicate with your friends during class? Step one: Write the note without drawing attention to the fact that you are not TAKING notes. Step two: Quietly fold the note into the tiniest piece of paper possible. Step three: Pass the note through a series of trusted classmates to get the message safely to your friend without having the note intercepted by an unintended party (the teacher!) Step four: Wait for your friend to complete steps one through three and hope you all don’t get caught. Today kids choose from texting, iMessaging, snapchatting, tweeting, and Facebooking. All they have to do is hide the fact that they’re looking at their phone.
When was the last time you used a cookbook regularly? Today we just type in the recipe we need and a crazy amount of options come up; dairy free, gluten free, egg free. But, before the Internet ruled the world, you needed to have the recipe on hand. People either had a variety of cookbooks, handwritten family recipes passed down, or both. If you wanted changes made, you had to figure it out yourself.; Usually through trial and error. Now, of course, people still have those family recipes and cookbooks. But when it comes to discovering a new recipe or making something in a pinch, the Internet is the place to go.
11 Maps/Written Directions
GPS is everything. And before everyone had GPS on their phones, we all used sites like MapQuest to look up directions on our own. But before the Internet? You either had to figure out your route using a map ahead of time, or get directions from someone in person or over the phone. For those of us who are directionally challenged (me!), this was always a source of major anxiety. Now, we have the privilege of having a computerized voice telling us exactly when and where to turn.
10 Pen Pals
Letter writing is definitely a lost art. Back when long distance calls were super expensive, writing a letter to a friend or family member was the most economical way to communicate. This is one of the few things on this list I actually miss. It was nice to get more than just ads and random bills in the mail. Once email happened, people began ditching the letter writing for email correspondence. Then there was AOL’s instant messenger. And then social media happened.
Before the Internet, people met in person first. I know. Crazy. Seeing someone face to face before knowing their favorite band or what TV shows they watch. Your options were either meeting a complete stranger out and about (at a club, bar, etc), dating a co-worker (potentially messy), sticking with someone you met in school, or meeting someone through friends (aka being set up). That was about it. I suppose if you had money to do so, you could also join a matchmaking service. But finding “the one” definitely involved a lot more face to face time right from the jump.
8 Applying for College
Recently my nephew applied for colleges. Everyone anxiously waited to hear if he got in to his top choice. Then, they all told me they would find out the following Friday at 6pm. What? They give you the exact time you’ll find out now? Apparently, yes. Now, students apply, receive a log in, and are told a date and time to log in to find out if they were accepted. Some simply receive an email at a certain date/time. But you know what happened before the Internet? (They were even still doing this in the early 2000s.) You had to apply and then wait for a letter to come in the mail. The rule of thumb was if you received a regular letter sized envelope, it was a rejection letter. If you received a big packet sized envelope, you were in! They didn’t give you a date, much less a time. You would just know acceptance letters had started going out because you would hear from other classmates that they received their big package and got in. Talk about anxiety. For the next few days, sometimes even weeks, you would check the mail every day wondering “Why hasn’t it come yet? Did I not get in? Maybe it just got lost. What if I got in and it got lost and then I’ll never know?!” So, students of today; be happy you all find out at the same time.
7 Applying for Jobs
Looking and applying for a j-o-b can be a big pain. It's nerve wrecking, there’s a lot of competition, and combing through job boards can be exhausting. But before the Internet? People either looked for help wanted ads in the newspaper, looked for help wanted signs around town, went from business to business asking if they were hiring, or simply sent out applications to places they would like to work hoping there was an opening. And, since CareerBuilder and email didn’t yet exist, resumes had to typed (on a typewriter), copied, and sent in the mail. Think of how long it must’ve taken to hear back!
Ok, so it’s before the time of the Internet, you’ve applied to a job the old fashioned way, and you’ve received a call for an interview. But wait, the job is in another state and you are planning on relocating if you get this job. So, you book a flight, a hotel room, and take a trip just to go to an interview. Hopefully there was some type of telephone interview done first so you know you are one of the last remaining candidates. But still…what do you tell your current job when you ask for the time off to travel and interview? Thank goodness Skype has eliminated all of that hassle.
5 Working from Home
Without the Internet, many jobs simply would not be available. Some would be available, but without the convenience of being able to work around your own schedule, at your own home. Many work from home moms (Hi!) would still be stuck trying to make extra income by going into direct sales. And while that may still work for some, it’s simply not the best fit for others. Other employees would be less productive because of the time spent commuting. You see, many work from homers log in some time before their official “start” time and continue to work after quitting time, since it’s all too easy to just continue working or take a break for dinner and continue to finish up while catching the evening news.
4 The News
Now, I know I mentioned catching up on the evening news in the last section. But let’s be real. Very few in the millennial generation watch the news on T.V. The baby boomers and up may still catch the news nightly, but the younger generations are all about getting information on demand. Wait until 6 pm to find out what that big story is? Nope! Checking the Internet right now and I’ll be informed in a couple of minutes.
3 Being Discovered
Today, aspiring actors, singers, comedians, and performers can head over to YouTube to showcase their talents to the public. Before the Internet made it possible for us to broadcast on our own, actors and artists had to be discovered by professionals. There are tales of some being discovered in malls or at restaurants, but most went to open casting call after open casting call hoping someone would recognize their talents. Today, YouTubers are the reason for the phrase “Internet famous.” They are famous due to going viral on the Internet, not because an agent, manager, or casting director placed them in front of us.
2 Playing Video Games
Ok, so this is one many may not think of at first. But how many of you play (or know of people who play) video games online with others? It doesn’t have to be through the computer directly. It could be through the game system (which is connected to the Internet.) Either way, if you’re playing multiplayer mode, it’s most likely with people from all over the world. Before the Internet made its way into every aspect of life, you had to actually be in the same room as the person you were playing the game with.
Socializing in general has completely changed due to the Internet. Obviously, social media plays a big part in that. We can now share photos, videos, articles (wink), and thoughts with hundreds, even thousands, or millions of people in an instant. But many also use this form of “socializing” to replace in person encounters. Not only that, many can be found spending time together in person, only to be sitting next to each other while silently occupying themselves on their own individual phones. It’s not all bad though. Family members who used to live “worlds away” can now keep in touch and maintain a close relationship with each other when they would have otherwise been “distant” family members; both literally and emotionally. People who normally shy away from the bar scenes and “typical” dating stomping grounds are now able to meet a wider variety of potential partners or friends through apps, websites, and online interest groups. Parents can find support and get advice from other parents who may have similar experiences. The list goes on. So the Internet can both connect and disconnect us. Like many things, it’s all in how you use it.