The world is an amazing place in 2021 (despite how it might look). You can communicate in real time with people on the other side of the planet and virtually all human knowledge is just a few quick swipes away. Things that would have genuinely seemed like science fiction just a few decades ago.
Try explaining these activities to the grandchildren …
Using a print encyclopaedia
Remember the Encyclopaedia Britannica? The smell of the heavy leatherbound volumes on the shelf was truly intoxicating. Poring through the pages trying to remember how to spell that thing you were looking for. And when you found it, the information was often out of date depending on how old the set was. But you still loved it.
The Wikipedia generation has it easy. You don’t even need to spell your search term right and you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
Making a mix tape
Oh sure, you can knock up a Spotify playlist for your crush in a matter of seconds but can it really compare to the feeling of carefully going through your CD or vinyl collection, searching for the perfect track to convey your emotions?
What helped that feeling was that you had to actually play the track in full to transfer it to a new tape so you got to listen to the full mix tape experience as it was being made.
Blockbuster and VideoEzy are names from the distant past, though once upon a time heading to one of those beauties on a Friday night was a truly exciting experience. The rows and rows of new releases were like an invitation to another world of an evening.
Netflix and its clones may make the home movie watching experience quicker and easier (and yes, cheaper too), it does seem to have sucked a certain magic out of the movie-watching experience.
Your grandchildren may not realise this, but not that long ago we all navigated by using paper maps. Just like Google Maps, but made of paper. Learning to navigate a major city was a humbling experience as you flipped frantically through the pages of the map book while trying to maintain control of your car.
Having a satellite watch over you and guide you directly to your destination is all well and good but the paper maps of old raised us as rugged adventurers who didn’t let something like ‘being lost’ get in the way of a good time.
We really do mean everywhere. At home. At work. On planes. On the bus. At the pub, at the footy, everywhere. The thick scent of tobacco masked many naturally foul odours coming from our bodies and our buildings, and gave everything a kind of uniform musty smell.
There are definitely some things about the past that are best left behind.
Writing to a pen pal
Yes, it is possible to develop an email friendship with someone on the other side of the globe, and even to get their responses a lot quicker than classic snail mail. But like the mix tape, the handwritten letter to a pen pal just has more authenticity to it. It takes time to gather your thoughts and put them to paper, making no mistakes and then waiting weeks by the letterbox for a response. It felt like a bigger emotional payoff.
Maybe we’re just nostalgic for wasting time, but the speed of today’s communications really seems to strip a lot of the meaning from our words.
Waiting for photos, only to be disappointed
Bad photos, essentially, don’t exist anymore in today’s instant-delete tech world. If you snap a picture on your phone but find you’re blinking, the bad photo can be banished from the world in an instant.
But back in the day we had to take the picture, hope and pray we were looking alright, then wait 5-7 days for a pharmacist to process the film. Inevitably, after this agonising wait you’d end up with a bunch of stills of the back of your mate’s thumb or you looking at something other than the camera and you’d be stuck with this cursed image forever.
Some of these things we genuinely miss, and some of them we think we might be viewing through rose-tinted glasses. Do we really want people smoking everywhere again? Of course not. Do we even really want to haul ourselves to the video shop just to watch a movie?
Maybe our wonderful memories of the past are best left as just that.
Can you think of some other things from days gone by that the grandkids wouldn’t understand? What are your favourite memories? Let us know in the comments section below.
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