I can’t imagine what life would have been like in middle school and high school if my group of friends had phones with cameras and social media.
Ugh, it terrifies me just thinking about it! But, all things change and obviously, the Internet has done incredible things for humanity and the world.
Still…I’m glad I didn’t have it when I was growing up.
AskReddit users talked about what they miss about life before the Internet showed up.
1. Don’t even get me started.
“Video rental stores.
I have such good memories of going to our local Mr. Movie with my dad, renting a sci-fi flick and getting candy at the checkout.
Streaming is cool and all, but i do miss video rental stores, mainly for nostalgic reasons.”
2. Fingers crossed.
“When you bought new music you just had to hope it was good.
The single might be popular but unless someone had it you just bought it and hoped for the best.”
3. I don’t like this.
“It used to be a lot harder to bail on things.
You’d have to call the person at home and tell them yourself, or at least leave a message if you wanted to be risky. Typically if you were gonna bail you’d give at least 24 hours notice.
Nowadays people can let you know they’re bailing last second since you’re always reachable.”
4. It was all an adventure.
“Making plans was an adventure, especially if you and your friends all relied on public transportation.
Look up the movie times in the newspaper (or later call moviefone), decide on a time to meet (and tell that one friend who’s always late an earlier time), walk our your house and check the bus timetable (that’s hardly accurate anyway), and then hoping nothing happens en route since you had no way of telling your friends if you’re late.”
5. That sounds kinda nice.
“News only being on at 6pm. That was it.
Now we have 6 hours of local news and 24 hours of cable news. Not being bombarded all day with “news.”
And when you saw “Breaking News” on the screen you knew some serious s**t went down.”
6. I’ll be there.
“RSVPing mattered. If you said you were going to be there, you made sure to be there.
None of this facebook invites that everyone blows off without any form of social repercussions.
If you said you were going to go and didn’t go, you were the a**hole and everyone knew it.”
7. See ya when I see ya.
“Leaving home and just being gone for the day. No cell phones.
If there were cameras, it was really different. You used them to take pictures of things or had people take pictures of you.
But there was no social media to preoccupy your mind. It was just doing something. And whoever you were with, was who you were with.”
8. A simpler time.
“Not being overwhelmed by choice.
Don’t get me wrong, having nearly every form of media downloadable is great, but back in the day, i rented a video game and I played that video game as much as I could.
Now, its hard to give it more than 2 seconds before I try one of the 20,000 games I have access to.
New game plus used to be cool. Now, I’m happy if just beat the game.”
9. Spacing out.
“I miss spacing out.
Like, you could legit just sit on a bench or ride a bus and space out completely, letting your mind wander into those creative zones.
Now phones/tech makes it much harder to get there.”
10. The good stuff!
“The Sears catalog.
That was how I found out about all the cool new toys.”
11. The thrill of it!
“I miss my video game magazines.
The thrill of getting one in the mail (often multiple because I had several different subscriptions) to read up on the next thing coming out, strategies for games that recently came out, and just the fun articles about related material were some of my favorite memories.”
“Remember Coke’s Magi-cans?
You’d pop the top and if you won, a rolled-up dollar bill would literally pop out.
Those were the days.”
13. Physical copies.
“Reading the newspaper and magazines used to be just about one of my favorite things.
Now it seems pointless to clutter the house with so much paper when I can access all of it online – but of course I don’t. I pick and choose just a few articles, I don’t really browse the way I would before and I encounter a lot fewer new or enlightening things.
Getting the Sunday New York Times and then going out for brunch and reading it with your friends/dates was such a treat.
I used to get so excited when my favorite magazines came in the mail, I’d immediately sit down and leaf through them and see what was worth reading right away and what could wait.”
14. It was nice.
“Not being accessible in general.
Now with everything there’s this expectation that you have to be available 24/7 and always reply. Friends, family, and of course the job being the worst part of it.
From time to time I still just disconnect everything but then I’m the d**khead that takes days to reach back.
I miss the time when that was just normal.”
15. Enjoy a good book.
“Sitting down in the evening to read a book because there was nothing on TV.
With today’s streaming services, there is so much more media being produced – and it’s all available at the click of a button whenever you d**n well please.
It can easily become an endless loop of what to watch next. I remember when there used to be 8 channels. You either had to watch “General Hospital” or find something better to do.”
16. No tech.
“Simplicity. I don’t even know how to describe it.
Like my days were filled with playing outside or swimming or reading in the tree out front.”
17. Just a little patience.
Waiting for the next episode of your favorite show or newest video of your favorite band.
Looking forward to seeing people.
The act of looking information up and being curious.
Waiting for that phone call when you would take the long phone cord and stretch it around the corner, into the bathroom so you could talk in private.
It seemed like there was so much more to look forward to.”
18. You could start over.
“The ability to start over.
I moved a lot, every move I could reinvent myself, bookworm, punk, preppie, I got to try out lots of aspects of my personality and my past wasn’t a factor.
I also miss patience. I get annoyed at TV ads now, radio makes you listen to the WHOLE song, even when you sooner like it….. I’m far too comfortable with instant gratification.”
19. That was fun.
“Anyone else ever find old un-labeled rolls of film that had never been developed?
And when you finally develop them, you find a day and a half of vacation pics from a year and a half ago or something random like that?
I miss that experience.”
20. It was paradise.
“Bike riding in the neighborhood and staying out until nightfall.
Playing tag, hide and seek, and having Nerf wars.
Not to mention talking via Walkie Talkies.”
21. The old-fashioned way.
“Going to the library to research things.
I loved getting a big pile of books on a table, taking notes, getting photocopies.
It was an experience in itself.”
“I really miss the way we used to discover things. This was a common experience for many of us back in the pre-internet days:
You are hanging out with some friends wherever. Maybe at the movies or the mall or wherever someone was working. The guy walks in with a Slayer shirt. You don’t know him, and he doesn’t know y’all, but you find each other and hang out anyway because you also like Slayer so he must be cool.
After the store closes or you just decide to leave, you go to the all night coffee shop that held all secrets of the world. You sit on an old couch with other people who also came and talk about music and books. You got recommendations based off what these people liked and you gave them recommendations.
You would go to the music store and buy music based off the cover art, or because that one guy at the coffee shop was wearing a shirt advertising the band. They turned into one of your favorite bands. You run into that guy some time later at a show for that band.
Now our music is whatever is recommended online based off complex algorithms of what we have previously listened to, and the guy with the Slayer shirt got it from Walmart and didn’t realize Slayer was a band, and we have traded our coffeehouses for discord and reddit.
I miss that. Part of it is nostalgia for my youth and part of it is just the beauty in the complex social interactions we established back then.”
23. A big one.
“Privacy. When you left work or school it was over for the day, there were no further interactions unless they were close friends.
Hanging out. Teens and young adults spent a lot of time away from home with friends, at malls, movie theaters, parks, arcades, etc. Dating. You met someone at school, work, at a party, at a bar, or through friend. Money. Cash was king, debit cards didn’t exist, and many businesses didn’t accept credit cards (fast food, for example.) Planners and Address books. Write it down! Appointments, birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, reminders, etc. Photo Albums.
Taking the time to buy film for a party or special occasion or just because and having 24 photos you could take (with no way to see the final photo until you took it to be developed.) Road maps. Going anywhere you haven’t been before? Better stop at a gas station and buy a map. Shopping. Go to the store and see what they have. Do the local stores not have what you need? Try looking in a catalog, maybe you can mail order it. Music.
On the radio and on MTV. Buy records, cassette, or CDs. Make mix tapes to create your own playlists. If you don’t record it off the radio or buy it there is no way of finding it again. There was so much “not knowing” which made the world seem so much bigger and exotic. Now everything feels noisy and petty.”
24. Away from it all.
“I loved being away from tech completely. It was pure freedom to go “exploring” in the woods.
No one to call you or get in touch with you.
It was just assumed that the dog and I would make it home at some reasonable hour, typically before the sunset for the day.”
25. Loved it!
“Pre-Internet, go down to the local blockbuster, spend as long as you can picking the perfect movie or game to rent, then go home and setting in for the evening/weekend.
Choices really had more of an impact. Picked a s**tty movie? Well, you either suck it up and watch that s**tty movie and get your money’s worth, maybe it’s actually a weird gem, or accept there isn’t enough time to go back and get another movie to rent.
Post-internet, first you pick a streaming service, then you browse all the new movies and/or TV series available to you, then look up that movie/show your friend recommended you, or maybe see what popular movie/show everyone is watching and contemplate checking it out, but end up watching another episode of Scrubs/Futurama before falling asleep to it autoplaying.
While I may now have near-infinite choices at my fingertips, it just means I’m more likely to pick something I’m familiar with and just watch the same things over and over again.
Back in the day, I’d just sometimes flip on HBO or some other movie channel and just check out what movie’s playing. Got to see some weird movies, but also found interesting ones as well.”
26. A big adventure.
“My formative years were the 1980s.
I remember like yesterday going to study in Paris my junior year of college. I got off the plane with no cell phone, no internet, a Let’s Go Paris book, and just a hostel address written on a piece of paper I’d stuck in a French dictionary. I did not know a single person in all of France.
I had $500 of cash stuck in a money belt. The belt was tight and sweaty but that money had to last me for at least a month until I could find a part-time job with my lousy French. My “credit card” was my father’s credit card numbers written down on a piece of paper. He told me I could only use it to buy a plane ticket home in an emergency.
I remember standing in the airport and having this powerful emotion of being 21 years old, scared s**tless, but in absolutely completely control of my own destiny. There was absolutely nobody who could come rushing to my aid if I needed it. I was 100% on my own.
I’m actually very thankful for that experience. I found the hostel. I found a job. I made friends. I learned French. I made it all on my own which was just a big boost in life confidence.
I have no doubt if I’d had a cell phone I would’ve called my parents on Day 2, told them it was too hard, and been on the next plane home. But I had no other choice but to succeed.”
Now it’s your turn to sound off!
In the comments, tell us what you miss about life before the Internet.
We can’t wait to hear from you!