It was quite good!
|Biloxi beach trip, late March, maybe 1987?|
Bemused, I tried to remember. I think we planned ahead better. We contacted each other during the week and assumed we would do something on the weekend -- whoever was available. Was Wendy out of town? Did Beth have a date? Well, then Lee, Darlene, Sheila, Lissy, and I would hang out. Generally, most clusters of friends need: a driver, a house, a fun person, a money person. By the time we were in our early 20's, we all had jobs, cars, and apartments, and most of us had some cash, so we were capable of loads of fun. We didn't assume we could do anything at the last minute though. If you waited to the last minute to have fun with your friends on a Friday night, you were likely to be home alone.
|watching a movie at Lee's apartment -|
I'm in my loud and fun mood.
I remember one bizarre night when I had nothing to do on a Friday evening. Nothing!At the time, my roommate and I had no T.V. Personal computers did not exist in 1987. It creeped me out to be in my apartment with only books to read and a big stereo (complete with turntable, receiver, tape deck, and two massive speakers) for entertainment.
I miss those days. Life was quite real, tangible, tasty. Interactions were eye-to-eye. The food you saw was smelling good on a plate in front of you, not sizzling on a facebook ad. TV, magazines, and movies existed, but TV was full of commercials, magazines were for teenagers and old people, and movies were only at the cinema. "Home" was just a place to sleep, store your clothes, and host an occasional get-together. All the fun happened elsewhere, with friends.
I miss those days. Guys had to work hard to get you on a date. There was less to do at home, and more to do elsewhere. Shopping for clothes wasn't an online experience; you went to McRae's with friends and giggled in the changing rooms. You spent hours driving around town in a car, checking out guys' houses that you had crushes on, strolling into the pizza parlor, sitting down, sipping a drink, driving some more. You squeezed into bench seats and sang along with the radio -- the radio! Everything took time. Time is valuable. So every interaction, every friendly exchange, had value. Life was slower because it took more time to do anything, but you savored it too.
I lived without the internet until I was about 36 years old. I lived without a smart phone until I was 51. An unconnected life feels normal to me, and I still view this machine as only a tool. It's a device, it's fun, and I can set it down if I need to. I don't think Julia and kids in her generation view their web-connected computers that way. An online life is deeply embedded in who they are.
The video below is a TED Talks by a woman who went off-line for a year. Later, she and her husband moved to rural Idaho to live off the electric grid with their three kids. She addresses an issue I hadn't considered: Living an online life causes you to be addicted to the constant personal feedback and validation it gives. Online, you express yourself and people respond. They tell you your blog post is wonderful, or your profile pic is wonderful, or your instagram photos are wonderful. What if nobody ever told you that your expressions of yourself were wonderful? What if you had to satisfy yourself merely with the joy that the expression itself gives? Would that be enough?
It was enough for me when I wrote bad poetry in college. It was when I played the piano alone at night. It is for anybody who does his thinking and arguing internally, and his brilliance never escapes his own head. I don't want to think we've grown a whole generation of humans who suffer with the insecurity of needing constant online validation. Have we?