Where shall we start? 

COVID? Cruise ships? Excruciating campaigns? Unbearable elections? Hell no, I’m just kidding. I’m as tired of typing all those words as you are of reading them, so I’ll spare you the pain of yet another writer’s wrap-up of 2020. I also promise not to use the word “unprecedented” anywhere (else) in this column. Instead, let’s go back even further in time, 30 years or so. 

I’ve been thinking recently about my own personal timeline of existence, and have come to the conclusion that I’m thrilled with my position on it. I love that I’ve lived a pre- and post-Internet life. 

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for having your second child in May 1976. It really put me — and everyone else over the age of 40 —  in a great position to watch what happens when technology advances at warp speed and forever alters our global society. Don’t we all feel a little wiser, a little more authentic for having managed in a world without Google, Amazon, touch screens, swipes and social media? Sure, it’s great to have the answers to every question, the ability to settle any bet, instantly with our smartphones. But we’ve also lost something organic, personal and visceral.

I love that I grew up with a social life instead of social media. I’m glad I wasn’t a profile growing up. The only “likes’ in my life were about favorite foods, middle-school boys and friends I invited to my birthday party.

I’m glad I…

  • Had to write down directions to a place, follow them and then reverse them to get home.
  • Had to make plans to meet up with friends at a designated place and time — and actually show up.
  • Had to take photos on film and get them developed at a drugstore. (Actually, scratch that. Those photos never looked good, couldn’t be edited and cost a fortune in high school terms.)
  • Remember the days when Amazon only sold books, real, hard-copy books.
  • Learned the patience of the rewind button on audio cassettes and VHS movies.
  • Met and spoke with guys in bars, not online.
  • Waited in line all night for concert tickets. (Actually, that’s a lie. My parents never let me do that.)
  • Had a Blockbuster video card, and one of the early Netflix subscriptions when they’d send us three us DVDs in the mail — the actual mail.
  • Remember the advent of caller ID and call waiting. God, the busy signal was a nightmare.
  • Spent my high school and college nights laughing uncontrollably around someone’s kitchen table rather than someone’s screen.
  • I learned penmanship, wrote letters and used proper grammar, with no emojis or stupidly shortened words.
  • I recall our first portable phones, our first car phones and our first cell phones, back when “minutes” cost a small fortune. Remember the nightmare of “anytime minutes” and “nighttime minutes?”
  • I was around to celebrate the advent of CDs, when we could jump to and repeat our favorite track;

As we embark on a new year and start looking ahead to brighter days, let’s not forget the authenticity, simplicity and personal connections that made us who we are. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have news feeds to scroll, shoes to order, morons to unfriend and memes to share. Where’s my phone? 

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