If you are under 21, this is a slice of social history you never experienced.
If you are over 21, this is a reminder of how well you’ve adapted to change.
Vice President Al Gore’s bold promises in 1993 of an ‘Information Superhighway’ have all come true. So what have we lost in return ?
- Appreciation of Well Constructed Argument
Pre-web, people wrote long critiques to the BBC about TV programmes. Last month, the Daily Mail questioned the Britishness of some of Team GB, calling them ‘Plastic Brits’. The comment that received the most likes simply said ‘Shut Up DM’. 8 characters was all that was needed.
Pre-mobile phones, if someone was late there would be no way of contacting them. So you spent more time wondering whether to bother waiting for them. It didn’t make people any more punctual.
- Letter Writing
Pre-email, I went away to Uni and like most of my colleagues, wrote letters about what I’d been up to over the past 2-3 months, to family and friends. This was 1990, not 1790 ! Now everyone is constantly connected, messages are brief, often slapdash and throwaway.
- Dead Time
Pre-web, if travelling or waiting for something, we’d pause and reflect. Stepping away from the internet to do this now takes will-power.
Pre-Google, people would learn facts or argue endlessly about them down the pub.
- Deep Reading
Pre-web, people used concentration to absorb large volumes of information in books through deep reading. This has been replaced by shallow reading. We now rely on and trust Google, Twitter and Wikipedia instead.
- Hoaxes & Conspiracy Theories
Pre-web there were urban myths about gameshow host Bob Hollness playing sax on the song Baker Street and Seaman Staines being a character in kids TV programme Captain Pugwash. A couple of clicks on Wikipedia proves this to be sadly untrue.
- Holiday News Ignorance
Pre-web catching the front page of a newspaper, after landing back at Heathrow, was a thrilling experience. Was the Government still in power ? Who’s dead ? Along with sending emails, people are no longer properly ‘away’.
- Knowing Telephone Numbers off by Heart
Pre-mobile, every phone number had to be keyed in manually, so you learnt your friends telephone number. Now if you lose your phone and don’t back up numbers in your email address book, you have to email everyone to get their number.
- Geographical Knowledge
Pre-SatNav, people worked out routes and built up a knowledge of where places were. Now we blindly follow instructions. I don’t have SatNav. I clutter my dashboard with GoogleMap printouts instead.
- Listening to an Album all the way through
Pre-downloads, if you wanted to hear more than one song by an artist, you bought the album. Then you’d find out which category your artist fell into.
- Con Artist: 2 singles + fillers. eg Eurythmics, Madness
- Singles Artist: a bunch of singles that would be played to death on the radio for the next 2 years, eg Madonna, Michael Jackson
- Album Artist: A collection of songs, which work better as a whole than on their own eg: What’s the Story Morning Glory, Purple Rain, Rumours, Abbey Road, Blonde on Blonde.
There are still artists like this, but ask the download generation to name an album and they’ll struggle!
- The Lunch-Break
Pre-Web, instead of sending personal emails whilst eating a sandwich, workers would not only leave their desk but sometimes leave the office! They would go for a walk, chat in the canteen or play cards together. I know. Sounds crazy.
*Source: Based on 50 Things that are being killed by the Internet, Daily Telegraph, Mon 27 Aug 2012