The '80s and '90s were a much more simpler time. If you grew up during those decades, then you remember a world without the internet. You remember a world where we weren't constantly inundated with information. A world before sharing and re-sharing of posts. A world before the insta-celebrity culture, smartphones, and social media.
Overall, it was an easier world where we learned valuable life lessons that kids today will never understand. Below we highlight some key life lessons from our friends at PopSugar and The Mid that technology has ruined for us and the youth of today.
1. Focus on one thing at a time.
There was a time not too long ago when we weren't constantly on our laptops, smartphones or tablets. Telephones back in the day weren't wireless; heck, they weren't even cordless. We could savor our time catching up with a friend on the phone. Nowadays we're constantly doing multiple things at once, whether texting with friends, scrolling Facebook, or checking out what's on Netflix.
Tech multi-tasking is the new normal these days. Family time isn't even family time anymore unless everyone has their gadgets. Remember when family time involved playing board games together or gathering everyone in the living room to watch a Very Special Brady Christmas? Long gone.
2. Celebrity culture was more mysterious.
The most recent season finale of South Park, entitled "#HappyHolograms," lampooned our current obsession with celebrities and how our culture is constantly making trending topics on social media that have no actual relevance. In the episode, Kyle laments how younger generation's preoccupation with trending topics and "Let's Play" commentary videos has led to the death of the living room. The episode also features a cameo from Youtube superstar and insta-celeb, PewDiePie.
It used to be fun to follow celebrities. It was because we knew very little about them, so we eagerly lapped up any small bit of info we could find. Those days are long gone, thanks to Twitter, TMZ, Youtube and all the other technological advances that keep us in constant one-on-one thrall to Hollywood. But it doesn't stop there. Our culture today can make anyone into an overnight sensation, with trending topics and viral videos. You can become "famous" for the stupidest things possible. I would take the Tiger Beat celebrity worship days of yesteryear over the superstar Twitter feuds of today.
3. Patience is a virtue.
I used to enjoy waiting every evening for my favorite song to come on the radio. I squealed with glee when my favorite band hit Number 1 on the station's daily hits countdown. I sat around for hours just waiting to hit "record" and "play" when that ultra-catchy Spice Girls track finally came on and then dance to my heart's content around the bedroom with my friends.
Alas, radio Top 40 countdowns are meaningless now. Kids today have no concept of patience when it comes to media and technology. They freak out if their song on Spotify doesn't come up instantly. Oh and those dreaded commercial breaks between songs? They'd throw a fit about them too.
4. Savor the moment.
Season-ending cliffhangers don't even have the same dramatic effects anymore. Remember how much fun it was to play the waiting and guessing game when J.R. was shot? Or how about freaking out and agonizing during the long summer months over what would happen to Dr. Kimberly Shaw on the next season of Melrose Place? We savored pop culture moments more back then. Now we're so immersed in the binge-watching culture created by Netflix, DVRs, and Itunes, that there's no opportunity to savor those moments. Even with today's TV shows where you have to wait until next season to find out what happens to your favorite character, technology has made it so that every scrap of information possible can and will be leaked to the public. Forget about being shocked that Jon Snow is dead, we have plenty of info about Kit Harrington's every move to keep us guessing and satiated until next year. It's both a luxury and a curse, because the mystery is now completely gone.
5. You are not the center of the universe.
We used to be able to enjoy the world without constantly inserting ourselves into it via social media. The selfie is mandatory now, and the measure of success for many people is to "go viral." Our current generation is obsessed with becoming overnight superstars by any means necessary. If that means a shameful private moment must be leaked to the masses, then so be it. All for the sake of the "ME, ME, ME" culture that we have created. Sometimes it's better to take a step back and enjoy the world around us, rather than letting everyone know that we are enjoying the world around us.
6. Parenting was unplugged with fewer distractions.
There was no surfing Instagram while nursing the baby, no checking email, or returning text messages during family time in the living room. Our parents could actually engage with us! We had entire shelves of lovingly-created photo albums, shoe boxes filled with memorabilia, and the surfaces and walls of our childhood homes were covered with framed photographs. These days, whether we’d like to admit it or not, there are too many distractions to parenting. And now, with digital cameras and iPhones, printed photos are a rarity, and your child has grown up expecting (and demanding!) to see the picture you just took. Can you imagine telling them they'd have to wait a week or two till the roll was developed?
Gone are the days of roaming the aisles of Blockbuster and renting VHS tapes or DVDs for Friday family movie night. With online streaming and Redbox movie stations, the video stores door is shuttered. And while parents today still have family movie nights with the kids, we kind of miss the experience that came along with going to the video store each week.
7. Looking up an answer was very different back then.
Ah, remember the days before Google and Siri? If we needed to find out the answer to something back in the day, it required pulling out the extremely heavy Encyclopedia Brittanica or scrolling through tons of newspaper articles on microfiche at the public library. Nowadays, we are tethered to our smartphones and anything we need to know is in the palm of our hands. Siri can tell us everything we need to know instantly. The downside to this is that you are no longer able to answer an intellectual question about anything. Nor are you able to indulge in endless speculation as we don't need to think anymore, our technology can do it for us! Technology may have signaled the end of wonder.
And there you have it. We hope you enjoyed these life lessons from the pre-millennial days. Not to say that technology hasn't done wonders for the world and for our way of life. We just wanted to reminisce over a simpler, slower time. The current generation should learn to appreciate what's around them because before they know it, it may disappear too. If our experience has taught us anything, it's that you can't take things for granted. Technology is an incredible thing, but if you never have to wait, you'll never learn to wait.