Born after 1995? This is just social history. Born before? Look how well you’ve adapted to change.
Vice President Al Gore’s enthusiastic and bold promises in ’93 of an Information Superhighway have all come true!
So what have we lost in return ?
- Appreciation of a Well Constructed Argument
Pre-web, people wrote long critiques to the BBC about TV. Last month, Daily Mail questioned the Britishness of some of Team GB, calling them ‘Plastic Brits’. The comment receiving the most likes: ‘Shut Up DM’. 8 characters. Maybe that 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 could absorb large volumes of information in books. We now scan, trust and rely on Google, Twitter and Wikipedia instead.
- Urban Myths
Pre-web, for years you’d hear how gameshow host Bob Hollness played sax on the song Baker Street or Seaman Staines was once a character in a kids TV. These now get debunked with a couple of clicks on Wikipedia.
- Holiday News Ignorance
Pre-smartphones, catching the front page of a newspaper, on landing at Heathrow, was a thrilling experience. Was the Government still in power ? Who’s dead ? Now people are no longer properly ‘away’.
- Knowing Telephone Numbers off by Heart
Pre-mobile, every phone number was 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.
- 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.