People like to think of the past as “a simpler time,” but was it really?
Back before GPS, dating apps, and Google, people had to live their lives without the ease and accessibility the internet affords – which made the following 20 things way harder than they are now.
Keep reading to see what what life was like pre-internet.
Looking up information required flipping through an encyclopedia.
Google wasn’t founded until 1998 – before then you had to manually find information in books.
If you wanted to check out a book from the library, you had to use the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system.
An American Librarian named Melvil Dewey developed the DDC system in 1876, and the system is still used in many libraries today.
Finding your way from point A to point B meant relying on a physical map.
Now, you need only plug your destination into your preferred GPS system and you’re on your way. Kids these days probably wouldn’t even recognise a paper map. Or be able to fold it back together.
Dating wasn’t a swiping game.
Dating apps nowadays function as portable Rolodexes of potential dates; but before the internet, you either had your social network set you up with a potential partner, or you approached people IRL.
When you arranged a meeting with someone, you had to be punctual.
It’s not necessarily easier to be on time now that the internet is a thing, but if you’re running late, informing the person you’re meeting takes a single text. Back in the day, people would just wait for you… and wait… and wait…
Selling your stuff required actual exertion on your end.
With the advent of websites such as eBay, Craigslist, and Etsy, hawking off your old stuff or self-made creations has never been easier. Before, you either set up shop in your garage or yard, hoping people would stop by, or you went around door-to-door.
… So did buying things.
For better or for worse, we now have the power to purchase items from online retailers with the click of a button.
You conferred with a travel agent to plan your trips.
Online engines like Expedia, Kayak, and Google Flights have made it easier for people to compare hundreds of different flights, hotels, and prices, and then decide for themselves which course to take.
You had to check the paper or call specific cinemas to inquire about what time movies were playing.
Googling wasn’t an option, and neither was MoviePass.
Keeping in touch with friends living elsewhere required time and effort.
Facebook has enabled us to “like” distant relatives’ and friends’ posts without having to thoughtfully engage with them one-on-one. Before social media, keeping in touch with people meant writing letters, calling someone on the phone, or planning in-person visits with the people you missed and loved.
Fan mail was literally just that — mail.
If you wanted to get in contact with your favourite musician, actor, or other public figure, you couldn’t just tweet at them or slide into their DM’s – you had to physically mail them a letter, and anxiously await their reply.
Networking demanded more of you than just setting up a LinkedIn account.
Self-promotion required selling yourself in person to notable higher-ups; you couldn’t supplement with blog posts, paid internet advertisements, or a carefully curated web presence.
Cataloging your life via photos necessitated a camera, film, and a place to develop photos.
No need to physically store all those selfies you take while out with friends; we now have the luxury of immortalizing our favourite snaps on our phones, in the cloud, or on other bodiless storage systems. Even better: we can share them immediately.
New music was only available to listen to in stores or on the radio.
Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes, and the like weren’t around to help you stream your favourite songs.
Unless you had a photographic memory, you relied on phone books and index cards for other peoples’ contact information.
Email addresses didn’t autofill, and search bars on social media platforms didn’t exist yet. This is why Rolodexes existed.
Bingeing your favourite television show wasn’t an option.
Episodes aired when they aired, so you made sure to park yourself in front of a television when your favourite show was on.
You got your news from… newspapers.
Believe it or not, newspapers served a broader purpose than the Sunday comics.
Applying for jobs was a whole process.
Not only did you have to seek out open job positions in the newspapers, but then you had to purchase resumé paper, and either attend a job fair, or mail your applications in by post.
The original form of spell checking was consulting the dictionary.
Now we can choose to rely on the squiggly red line to let us know when we’ve made a spelling error.
You had to manually change your clock for Daylight Savings.
Clocks didn’t just spring forward and fall back automatically, like they do now.
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