|Your story here:||If you want attribution, put your first name or initials here (not required):|
|I never went anywhere without a book or a magazine||JJ|
|I started writing something about nightmares revolving around card catalogs but they're really dreams, really satisfying dreams, where persistence has its rewards. I had a black belt in card-catalog-fu.||VJ|
|When I have to meet with friends we did it by conventional phone, from home, in the kitchen. My mum was always listening, so I had no intimicy about my friends. If you arrived soon, to the meeting, you could wait reading a book or wandering. You waited a long time if someone was late. And sometimes you came back at home with no meeting. We had to go to libraries to check information for work or study.||Carol|
|The last time I had just a plain old call-and-text phone was the summer before my senior year of college. I ended up getting a bit drunk one night and blacked out. Woke up and my phone at the time was down for the count. I guess it drank too much too. These things happen. For the next week I had no phone at all and it...was actually great. I wasn't connected in anyway to people. I walked around campus and enjoyed my surroundings. Read under trees on the quad. Was more present in general. Alas, this didn't last. A week after the alcohol-induced time warp, I got my first iPhone. I haven't looked back since, mainly because I've been looking down.||Rob|
|When I was young and would go outside to play with friends in my neighborhood, I would have to stay within "calling distance" which at that point meant close enough to my house that I could still hear my dad yell my name at the top of his lungs when my parents wanted me to come home. This was a totally acceptable thing for parents to do (yell super super loud from the back porch) at the time and it was truly not embarrassing for me though it sounds like it would be. I haven't heard anyone in my neighborhood (where my parents still live) do that in a long time, probably because kids either stay within eyesight or have cell phones.|
|I fondly remember the time when I couldn't conjure every song ever made with just a few taps. The process of finding obscure music resembled a treasure hunt. I had to follow trails of clues if I wanted to get my hands on a record I was dying to listen to. When I finally got my hands on the record, I would listen to it for days until every squeak was etched into my brain. I would project my life onto it, and it would project itself onto my life. Musical experiences have become so ephemeral now that they're so easily accessible.||Ritwik|
|When I first moved to London in 2006 for Uni the best thing I bought was an A6 London A to Z. I carried it in my bag everywhere. I'd folded the corner down on the page which showed where lived and then used tiny page markers to annotate other places I frequently visited. I spent many an hour getting lost on random streets, swearing into my A to Z for not showing all the streets but it did lead to new discoveries too. Years later and my beloved A to Z sits on a shelf in my flat having been replaced by Citymapper on my phone.||Hannah|
|I used to pride myself on the ability to fold a map.||Austin|
|I wander the streets of Budapest. No words make any sort of Indo-European sense. Eventually I stop an old man and ask him, in my baby German, where I could find lunch and maybe a beer. Not only was he hungry, and he knew the best spot. His German was passable, mine was like the equivalent of a corner store owner's grasp of English (e.g., "These soda, my friend, they two for dollar.") He told stories of fighting in the Hungarian resistance and how his parents missed the Hapsburg Empire. I talked mainly about the food (lamb steaks w/ horseradish butter) and how I liked their public transit system.|
I don't like travelling on my own. It puts me too deep into my own head. Having lunch with that old man was the best thing that happened in the 10 days I spent backpacking around Eastern Europe.
|I got my first smartphone at the beginning of the year. Life before the smartphone was normal, but I got lost all the time. I was also the only loser to print Googlemaps. Didn't really mind to be honest.||Marie B|
|My dad only used my full name when I was in trouble. One day when I was 16 and hanging out in my bedroom, he shouted out my full name from downstairs. It was the first time a guy had ever called me, and my dad had picked up the phone. 😳||K|
|I used to get lost a lot more. That forced me to explore and be very observant of the new things around me. Similarly, I used to ask people other than Siri for directions.|
|Transportation has always been unreliable, whether public or in your own car, and we had no way to tell people if there was a problem. I remember one day in the early 1990s, arranging to meet a friend by a statue in the center of the city – we had to arrange the time and place a day before meeting, and couldn't adjust our plans as we had no way of communicating after we'd left our respective houses. |
I arrived 15 minutes late. He wasn't there, and I had no way of knowing if he'd left out of frustration, or was even later than me. I waited for about 20 minutes, then looked around and realized there was no phone box in sight of the statue. In order to call his house, I'd have to leave the spot I was standing in, thereby opening the possibility of his arriving late, seeing I wasn't there (because I was nearby, trying to call him) and assuming that I'd been the one to leave out of frustration. So went the mind games of life pre-cell phone.
I waited another ten minutes, then walked around the corner to call his house. He was there - he'd been up sick all night, and finally managed to get to sleep just as I was leaving to catch the bus. He'd woken up half an hour later, tried to call my house, and was told that I'd already left. So I finally learned that my journey was unnecessary, an hour after I'd arrived, and nearly two hours after I'd left.
This was just how it was. It was only a decade later, when I had a cell phone and regularly evaded such situations, did I remember the times I waited for an hour or more by a statue, without any sense of what was happening, and thinking that was normal.
|I paid a lot of money to learn things: Guitar, history, psychology, engineering, public speaking and hell- how to save money. In my old age (30) I have learned YouTube and Podcasts are much cheaper and, usually, I retain the lessons and perspectives indefinitely.||MZ|
|My right bicep was absolutely perfect thanks to the lifting of my "car phone" to my ear all day long!||Susan|
|Life was definitely in the moment before the internet & cell phones. When you were washing dishes, having a conversation, or listening to music you were present with no distractions.|
I long for a phone call where someone is just engaged in the conversation and not doing other things. Now that I am a senior I am back to those days. The ladies I golf and bowl with do not have cell phones and do not use computers. They get together to share a cup of coffee or lunch and talk. No one even looks at their watch. They are completely present looking at you and talking and laughing.
I have noticed that it is mostly seniors who carry cash. We like to know how much we are spending and have no use for a debit card. One only uses a credit card for big items and only after thinking about it for days.
I miss have someone's complete attention. As parents, we wonder if our children have lost their imagination and problem solving skills due to Google.
I would love to see the art of hugging return. Everyone used to freely hug and shake hands but we don't do much of either these days.
Cell phones have a purpose but also are addictive.
|Life before a smart phone was waiting for your mom to pick you up at school and watching the rest of the kids leave, one by one, clambering into their parents' cars, or their friends' parents' cars, while you imagined that maybe you'd forgotten precisely what your mom's car looked like, so maybe this next one was actually it, but of course it wasn't. And then, when you're the last kid in front of the school, you go back into the now empty corridors, where your footsteps sound loud and echo-y, and you find the payphone, dig out a dime, and call home to see if maybe your mom just forgot it was time to come. But the ringing on the other end of the line just keeps going, so you hang up. And that was your last dime, so you go sit in front of the school, toe-ing rocks and sticks, watching birds, getting colder, and waiting.||JT|
|About a year or so before the iPhone first hit the market, I went out for dinner with two of my old friends from high school. Seeing empanadas on the dessert menu somehow led to an argument over whether mole sauce contains chocolate, which we could not definitively settle until we got back to the dorm room of the person insisting it didn't. When something like that happens now, everyone just pulls up Wikipedia on their phones right then and there, and it's on to the next bargument instead of keeping this one going until we're in front of a computer.||Jessica|
|In high school, I was in the advanced English 10th grade English class. One of the things we had to complete was regular assignments from an SAT prep workbook. Most of those assignments were analogy-type questions that required knowing the meaning of the SAT words. My friends and I would meet early in the library before school started (the day the assignment was due each week, of course) to use their dictionaries to look up the meanings, so we could complete our assignment before English.||Tiffany|
|Life before the smartphone was much more work. We used to keep atlases in our cars, coordinate meeting places with friends before we left the house, rewind VHS tapes when the movie finished. The smartphone changed human behavior in an unbelievably short amount of time because it removed a lot of the arduous friction in our lives. Now most citizens can be a video journalist, use credit terminals with secure NFC payments, and communicate in rich media instantly with anyone on Earth. If all this has happened in less than ten years, I can't wait to see the word when our time capsules are opened.||John M.|
|I got lost a lot.|
|I set aside time to wander library book stacks. Didn't use my phone at dinner, either. Maybe I need to change both these things.||Kathy in Kansas|
|Before I had a smartphone, I hoarded quarters, sometimes doing complicated math in my head (my head is not made for math) to ensure that I would receive only quarters in my change when making a purchase. The reason why was that, before everyone had a smartphone, quarters were the only coin public pay phones would accept, and public pay phones were the only way to make a call when you were outside of your home or workplace. Also, video game machines (which were the size of a refrigerator back then, btw ) only took quarters. I also kept copies of magazine articles folded in my back pocket so I would have something to read and wouldn't get bored riding the subway. And I cut out pictures from my favorite movies and kept them in my wallet, just to look at. The one I kept in my wallet for years was the wedding night scene from The Last Emperor (she kisses the shy boy king's glasses right off his face).||Damien M.|
|When we were kids and wanted to play with a friend, we walked up to their house and loudly called out their name in sing song fashion ie. ' Oh Tommy!'. We didn't text them.|
|Every summer growing up, my family would take a 14 hour road trip to go to the beach in North Carolina. A week before we left, we'd go to AAA to get maps for every state along the way, and my mom would navigate as my dad drove. Several times over the years, she fell asleep and he drove past a major highway change, and there would be some panic in the car when mom woke up and we were headed the wrong way. Thankfully it never added too much time to the drive!||Rachel|
|My Sony Ericsson died a slow demise which involved several of the keys ceasing to function, to the point that I had to copy and paste letters/strings of letters into text messages for them to make sense, and it got to the point that whenever I did any writing - with a pen, on a computer, w/e - I was seeing those same strings of letters. Even a cracked screen isn't that trying on these new-fangled smartphones.||TB|
|Before the smartphone, I had to actually write down numbers and calculate by hand. Now, I just whip out my phone and easily calculate everything. I do miss writing down numbers on scrap paper and doubling checking my math.||KM|
|"I Melt With You" came on at the bar, and this dude starts professing his love for The Smiths. I tried to tell him it was Modern English, but he wouldn't listen, and I COULDN'T PROVE IT.||mgw|
|When I was 10 years old, my classmates called me ' the walking encyclopedia'. They did that to bully me, because I was an obnoxious little know-it-all. But let me tell you two secrets. |
The first: the name-calling didn't really hurt me that much. I was actually proud of who I was and all the knowledge I had (mainly acquired by reading the complete library of the little town in the east of the Netherlands I grew up in). As soon as my classmates noticed they couldn't hurt me, they decided to use me. If they wanted to know something, they just asked me. I was their Wikipedia avant la lettre.
But the second little secret is this: I didn't actually know it all. So whenever they asked me a question to which I did not knew the answer, I just made something up. I told stories about insect species that do not exist, thought up some pretty impressive medieval wars and created faraway lands no one had ever heard off. I had a blast. And the best thing was: nobody took the effort to open an actual encyclopedia to check if my answers to their questions were correct. I am so glad we did not have Google back then.
|Years ago back in the old days of the 1990s when I was a kid you could only watch cartoons on a TV and if I wasn't home when they were on my Mom had to record them on this thing called a VCR and hope my Dad did not record over them. You could not watch your favorite movie while your Mom was stuck in traffic. You had to talk to her. But it was fun because she would play games with you. My favorite was I spy. In the grocery store I had to actually help her because what else was I gonna do. It was all good though because she would buy me candy. When we went out to eat I would make up stories about all the other diners because I had no iPhone to play games on. I would entertain my parents and grandparents with these stories on the way home.||Lizzie|
|The weekend of my 15th birthday, my family went to Hershey, PA. My mother printed out MapQuest directions for everything — from our house to the hotel, our hotel to the park, our hotels to the outlet mall. On the day we left — my actual birthday — we went to the Lennox outlet, which was a little out of the way of the directions from our map. My mom suggested that we just drive back to the other outlet mall, then follow the directions from there. My dad said we didn't have to do that — he had a map, and he would direct us. Cue us driving through Amish country for two hours. Finally we saw another car my mom made him ask them which direction was the turnpike. The pointed the opposite direction we came. The Mets were playing the Phillies that night, and all I wanted was to watch the game at home. Instead, by first pitch at 7:00 pm, I was listening on the Philly radio station, because we hasn't even made it to Jersey yet. The IPhone had launched a month before. Once I got one for Christmas 2008, we never got that lost again.||Victoria|
|I used to carry a book with me everywhere, to read on subway or while waiting for someone. Also I remember going having an yrgency to use a computer every time I have a chance, to check email, later chat services. Now my mom uses voice activated features on her phone and find this comletely normal, talking to a nameless thing to show where her favorite book store moved.|
|I used to print out maquest directions or copy them down by hand (likely that the inkjet printer was usually not working or out of ink) whether I was driving to Target or walking somewhere in a part of Brooklyn I wasn't familiar with.||Julia|
|This was only a couple months ago. I drew more maps. I lost a lot of them. I wasn't meant to be a cartographer anyway ... Even if, when I was little, I did draw atlases of unreal places and stain them with coffee.||SD|
|There were pay phones at school that I had to use to call my parents if I needed to stay late and needed a pick up or something. After hoarding quarters for awhile, my parents somehow got a 1-888 number so I could call the house from the pay phone without requiring a quarter.||Julia|
|I moved to New York pre-smartphone and post-Google Maps. When I was still new in town, before I left my apartment to go somewhere new, I would hand draw a small map in my notebook of where I was going so I could spare myself the embarrassment of unfolding a big map to navigate.||T.S.|
|Once upon a time I had dial up and it was acceptable. I wouldn't say "good" - I would sit and read books while I waited for websites to load, oftentimes old Bathroom Readers that lead to an early fascination with trivial knowledge. I was 14.|
Then I went to college and had access to moderately high speed internet in the dorm. This was comparatively good! Websites actually loaded before I could finish an article outlining a series of now debunked urban legends or strange lawsuits. The best I could manage was a few of the quips at the bottom of the page ("Turtles can't stick out their tongues" or "Apples float in water - Pears sink.")
Napster came, blew up, and then went, leaving in its wake Limewire and a few other decentralized hangers on. I'd play games like Unreal Tournament online and whine to my roommate about lag, who was a 6 foot 6 walk on member of the University of Miami basketball team and did not give a shit. He did however care that I could find and download rap from his home country of Spain for free, which I did with aplomb until the administration blocked the ports usually used for file sharing. This worked for all of 24 hours.
Inbetween semesters I would go home, back to the squeals of the modem and the piles of Bathroom Readers. When I graduated and went off to law school, one of the first semi-adult things I did while getting my not-adult one bedroom apartment in an adultless college town was sign up for DSL. Quality of internet access ceased to be something I ever thought about.
I graduated and followed a girl to a miserable year spent in our nation's capital, where I had a very adult job with a very adult tie and blazers but only one pair of adult shoes. Our desks had internet access and I tried very hard to appear busy while absorbing reams of news and data via Google Reader, absorbing via firehose what I used to get in drips and drabs via those books with waterproof covers. I never once gave a thought to what work was like before desks had internet access and the only thing here to distract me for 8 hours was actual work.
Midway through this year the first iPhone came out. It was heavy, had a steel back like an iPod, did not have any apps aside from the ones it came with, and only ran on the Edge network - which is to say barely at all. They were also expensive and nearly impossible to justify. Regardless I lusted after it and the day they discontinued the 4 gigabyte model I ran up the street from my office to the Apple Store in Clarendon VA and bought one at a slight discount.
If Bathroom Readers had been made obsolete by years of gradually increasing data speeds, suddenly the entire CONCEPT of ephemerally short doses of printed facts were now defunct. If you have a moment to fill, you do so with a small glowing screen you carry in your pocket. If you're alone, why should I let a newspaper or magazine choose what I'm interested in? It didn't matter that the Edge network was glacial - what mattered was that I had agency I'd been denied before.
What this also meant is that I stopped absorbing trivia. In college I was inexplicably good at Jeopardy. Now, not so much. I live in an echo chamber of my own making, absorbing today's takes rather than random odd facts while riding the train.
My brother's wife still buys me Bathroom Readers for Christmas. They sit in the bathroom for guests although I myself have never cracked one for more than a moment. To be honest, opening one triggers a sort of Pavlovian impatience, like I'm only reading these disposable facts while waiting for something else to happen. Which I guess is the point, although unlocking my iPhone never gives me the urge to get on with something. This is maybe a bad thing.
|In middle and high school, if we wanted to talk to our friends we had to call their house and talk to their parents more often then not - and jump off the phone if someone else needed it. Though for a while we did use ICQ and AOL chat, which was like texting but kept you completely anchored to your family's giant desktop computer. |
Driving around new places was much harder, and involved knowing how to read maps and, eventually, printing out mapquest directions and getting hopelessly lost if you deviated from those directions even a little bit.
I only got a smart phone recently, about 3 years ago, because it made a huge difference for field work. Imagine trying to coordinate getting from Maine to Virginia with just a dumb phone - it involves various buses, trains, and sometimes planes. One epic time my plane got cancelled (ugh, Baltimore), and I was having to call my husband repeatedly to find out if there were any hotel rooms, if there were any buses, if there were any new flights, how on earth I could get to the boat on time, all things I realized would be so easy to figure out on a smart phone - that was the final straw.
|I was bored all the time, but sometimes it was good and I miss it.|
|When I was a kid, my Dad and I used to go to garage sales every Saturday morning together. "Garage saling," as we experts call it. My Dad would wake me up at 6am, we'd pick up our neighbour (and my surrogate grandpa) Richard, and by 6:30am we'd be huddled together in the car pouring over the garage sale ads in the local newspaper. We'd circle the most appealing ones and then plan our attack by consulting our town's road map, figuring out the most efficient routes and prioritizing our mid-morning breakfast stop (greasy diners preferred). This routine went on for years, and I cherish those mornings as some of my favourite memories with my Dad as a kid. He taught me how to read maps and give helpful directions, budget and barter (I was only given a few dollars each Saturday to spend wisely), and take pleasure in the hunt. None of this would happen now. Garage sales are almost obsolete with eBay, Craigslist, and Kijiji. Google Maps takes the guess work out of wayfinding. And more and more so funds are exchanged with cards or smartphones instead of counting out physical bills and change. I miss those early mornings, but we'll always have my Dad's weird vintage garden hose nozzle collection (acquired through garage sales) to show for them.||Kate|
|I have this very vivid memory of a road trip from Toronto to near Ottawa in Ontario when I was 7 or 8. My father was driving our big family van and we were going to visit my uncle, his brother, to pick up a kitchen table (because this made sense). While my dad drove, my job was to navigate. He had bought me a bunch of maps that would cover the areas we were going to travel through. I diligently routed our trip, measured distances, and kept updated my father to our progress. What seemed like such a vital part of our trip, I can now see was a creative way to keep me occupied on a long road trip. Now that I've done that trip a handful of times as an adult, with a smartphone plugged into the car and a voice interrupting a podcast alerting me of an upcoming route change, I miss the physical maps and route markers.||sk|
|I have always been an infinitely curious person. I remember having a conversation with my friends in middle school saying that if I could have a super power, I wanted it have my brain wirelessly connected to the internet. I was in love with Google, with the ability to find information without being limited to what was in our 10-15 year old family encyclopedia set. I remember carrying a notebook around with me, and writing down all my questions. When I went home at night, I would wait till no one wanted the phone, connect to the internet on a 56k modem, and one by one I'd search for the answers and write them down. What's the history of groundhog day? What exactly does peripeteia mean? What are the stone bits at the top of a castle that look like analog waves called? What sort of light bulbs go in stop lights? Where exactly is Djibouti? What's the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? What is a quagga? Do hermit crabs make sounds? Who invented the pencil? How many novels did Faulkner write? Is Jack Kerouac still alive?|
I remember feeling like each piece of information was a treasure, doubly so on the days when I forgot my notebook or a pencil and only the most burning questions got answered. I'd always tell my friends the next day. Most of the time they didn't care or were more amused I'd bothered to look it all up than to just enjoy the idle wondering. I still don't have the internet in my brain, but having Google and Wikipedia in my pocket is pretty close. I do, however, miss the importance information used to have. I've learned that a tidbit means more to you when you ponder and speculate all day than it does when you can just pull out your phone and look. You don't have to frequent a store to know its hours (because few had websites). You don't have to check out a place to find out if you like it (because word of mouth was all we had and Steve wouldn't know a good meal if it came up and bit him). You don't sit and talk with your friends about whether or not someone read an article in the paper about a celebrity dying or heard about it on TV, you just look it up. I love being able to find out absolutely anything, but sometimes I miss seeing information as something that must be sought and earned.
|Before I had a smartphone, I passed notes—most of them during my freshman year of high school, to a girl named Christine. I wrote them during classes, if I was distracted, or between classes, and then handed them to her in the hallway. She passed notes to me, too; I kept hers in a ziplock bag, and read my favorites again and again. Many of the notes were pages long; each was longer than any text message or e-mail I've ever sent from my phone. I learned to fold them into small packages that unfolded when she pulled a tab or a flap or a corner, and thought about her refolding them along the same seams. Immediate replies were impossible; I had to wait for her to read my note, consider her reply, commit pen to paper, then find an opportunity to place her note in my hand. This is how I learned that intimate communication requires patience, that a good measure of a friend's care might be the time she spends thinking, writing, folding, and waiting.||BF|
|I got to know my future boyfriend really well on our first "date" (which was actually him giving me a ride to a cemetery for a Halloween article I was writing) when we got lost for like 2 hours on Idaho backroads. We didn't have a map, and of course couldn't look it up on our phones.||KS|
|Before I had a smartphone (which, incidentally wasn't until late high school and at the time I thought my parents were such hold outs for not getting me a blackberry), my family used to take trips to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. Given that I am the youngest of four my parents were NOT interested in dealing with a plethora of screaming children and so my father invested in this contraption for the car that would allow you to hook up a TV to the cigarette lighter. He would then take one of our tiny bedroom TV/VCR combos, use bungee cords to affix it to the center console, and let us battle it out for whose Blockbuster pick we would watch first. So, I guess my parents were technologically inclined to begin with, but it's weird to think that post-iPhone kids don't know what's so ridiculous about this story as they've probably never seen a VCR or a Blockbuster...||Jess E|
|I served for a year after college as an Americorps Construction Assistant for a large Habitat for Humanity affiliate. We were given a pager that our Site Supervisor (the general contractor) could use to contact us while we were out running errands or otherwise off-site. I'd be at a hardware store shopping for supplies and have to borrow a phone in the store's office to call my boss back. Sometimes she'd forget to tell me to get something ahead of time and I'd have to go back to the store again.|
I couldn't lead a group of volunteers on my own until a landline had been installed on a site (in case of emergencies). Cell phones were around at this point, but far less prevalent.
And how I could have used a navigation app in that unfamiliar city! Instead I had a large spiral map book I attempted to use...
|I grew up with landline phones. I had to call my friends at their houses if I wanted to hang out with them. I never knew who would pick up, or if my friend was even there. It made me very nervous.|
|It was a different time and place - we went outside, played with other kids on the block, even if we didn't really know them, risked injury and punishment, committed petty crimes and learned not to put our fingers in pencil sharpeners or electric sockets. Our parents did not know where we were every millisecond of the day; we ambled home from school and bought candy bars in a friendly garage, crossing busy streets on our own. Later, after we moved to rural Maine, we had the woods and the ocean and books and only 3 tv stations, 2 of them Canadian and the other was pbs and those only available if the stations could be picked up. Our mother read aloud to us, as did our teachers and a book was easy to take anywhere. Dictionaries were the bomb, as was the thesaurus - never wrote a paper without one. We learned from our environments, from seaweed, tree bark, rocks and moss, from actual interactions with our peers, from creating stories and rituals and games. Who remembers jump rope rhymes anymore? or plays capture the flag? Getting dirt under your nails, in your cut, lying to your parents about how you got a nasty gash so one didn't have to get a tetanus shot - this was all normal and great fun and can never occur in VR on the phone grafted to your hand.||Victoria|
|Whenever I faced boredom, I would go for a walk. In the city, I'd look around and try to imagine how the world got this way — how clay was baked into bricks and hauled to this street, placed brick by brick by another person long gone. I imagined humans as a geologic force. In the woods, I imagined the life of a bird, what my cares and worries would be, how I'd spend my time. Now that I have a smartphone, when I'm bored I instinctively pick it up and stare into the void, clicking on an endless list of links, doomed to be trapped in a small false world by a device designed to hold my attention until my body fails and my corpse is hauled off. Before my last breath, I will feel certain of my political inclinations and uncertain of everything else. My body will rot to dust and, if I'm lucky, made into a clay brick. More likely, it will be burned and my carbon molecules will disperse in the atmosphere, reflecting sunlight back down to the Earth's surface to further global warming.||H.W.|
|Prior to smartphone and Internet technologies those of us who worked offshore would contact shorebased facilities using a Single Sideband radio to contact a marine operator who patched us into the landline phone system.||JHS|
|When I first moved to LA, I was a production assistant on a TV show. This meant my job was mainly to run around town and pick things up or drop them off. I was brand new to the city and I didn't understand even its general layout. My parents had bought me a navigation system as a college graduation present but it had to connect online so it almost never loaded when you were driving. Useless. What I did have was a Thomas guide which is a thick, paper book detailing sections of LA. Every time I had to run somewhere, I would pull out the Thomas guide and transcribed a path on a piece of paper. It was such a pain at the time but now I know Los Angeles better than most people.||Alexa|
|I had a very tattered map of Manhattan that I subjected to the origami of minimized surface area as I looked up any place, in hopes no one would notice that I, a native New Yorker, still have no idea what's going on below Houston.|
|Before I had a smartphone I was in high school and had no way to keep in touch with my friends besides physically seeing them. My friends were at this time my life. I remember one night my parents wanted me home for some reason, probably something about "spending time together as a family," and I had no way to escape and no screen to dive into, so I walked out the front door and sat at the edge of our driveway (it was warm, I remember, from the sun that had just set) and cried and cried. I was sixteen. I felt completely alone, something I haven't felt in a long time. I honestly kind of miss it.|
|I'm not super punctual, so I have strong memories of rushing out the door in high school on my way somewhere new, and cursing myself when I realized I had forgotten to print out the Google Maps route. I'd sprint back up the stairs, grab the three pages of directions, and run back out the door to my car.|
But that wasn't the hardest part—during summer I'd roll my windows down and more than once had my pages fly to the back seat and almost out of the car. And forget it if you missed a turn! Then you'd open an actual book of maps.
The struggle, it can be said, was real.
|Life before smartphone was challenging! When you couldn't remember the name of that actor in that movie, you and your friends had to play a game, had to fight to remember, which ended in laughter and eventually an earned satisfaction! Life without a smart phone pushed you to reach out to more people, to engage with your surroundings - "anyone have the time?" "anyone know where the closest Chase Bank is?" Life without a smart phone was LESS awkward. People think that about the present, because whenever there is an awkward moment, you can bury your head in your instagram feed and escape any reality. But because of this, now when your phone is dead and you're forced into reality, life is double the awkward because people forgot how to interact with each other. Life before smartphones gave you a larger "social network" - meaning the one that you had with your friends from school and work and not the one with your "friends" on facebook. Life before smartphones meant more "facetime" - time spent interacting with someone face to face, instead of face to screen. Don't get me wrong, I support technology and the doors that it's opened for us as people. But some days, I'm left missing the all the doors that it also closed.||M|
|It took ages to text anything because of that manual keypad system where you had to choose the letters one by one. Texts were usually single words: "Here"; "Later"; "Miss u." Acronyms and intentional misspellings have since fallen out of fashion. Sad.|
|Books everywhere. My life was full of books. And magazines. At my parents, at home, in the classrooms. I spent a big portion of my student loan on art books I did not need for school. And trips, which were way more expensive than today. Still, I did go to university and through out my years there, I'd go to the library often to pick up books for various projects. I'd come home with a big pile and day dream about books falling to the ground alongside papers and this man who was passing by would stop to help me, we'd fall in love and be happily ever after. Who walks around with a big chunky pile of books nowadays? Even daydreaming themes have changed.||Gisela S.|
|Printing out MapQuest directions before going anywhere. Traveling alone at the time just meant bumbling around until it got dark and going back to a hostel. Maybe it's that I was becoming an adult as the smartphone came to be, but I just recall feeling lost and unable to be the person I wanted to be and being overwhelmed with uncertainty.|
|I remember '99. Playing cricket in my driveway. I was 4 and wanted to be a chef. I baked chocolate pies in bottle corks using mud and the sun.||Nicanor|
|I had a passing interest in figure skating when I was about 8 years old, which culminated in my parents letting me buy a sorta fan-zine of bios and action photos of famous figure skaters from the school book order... Michelle Kwan was just so cool, and how else was I going to get information about her?! One of the pairs featured was a Canadian pair who had been considered underdogs, but subsequently rallied to the top, "bucking" the odds, whatever that meant. I asked my dad the next morning as he was shaving, "what does bucking mean?" I will never forget the look of surprise/confusion he gave me as he said, "ummm maybe don't say that, it's not very polite." My dad has been hard of hearing for as long as I can remember.||EM|
|When I first moved to a new town to attend law school, I didn't have a smartphone or internet in my apartment. I'd drive to starbucks with my laptop, use mapquest to look up directions to something, write those directions down, take my laptop home, and then go. HORRIBLE.||Allison D|
|I rode my bicycle. A lot.||Chris B.|
|In the late 90s, the Internet lived on little AOL CDs that you got for free in the mail.|
|Life was easier. If you wanted to hang out with your friends, you could do one of these things: a) call their home and ask their mom about them; or b) go there and scream their name out loud so they can hear you.|
Then theres the boardgames, the movies - that you had to go to the video store to RENT them - note that you had to rewind, otherwise poeple would get mad.
|Long before the internet, instant information was but a dream, I was there when it all started, when the internet was born it was a gift from the technical gurus. When I was a boy, we read, and read a lot, everything actually, when I first learned to read, I couldn't be dragged from the library, I lived the stories of The Roman Empire, World Wars 1 and 2, history of our great nation, how it started, how it thrived, how it failed and how its still trying to recover. |
My television had 3 channels and we got up from the couch to change the channel. I was there when Big Bird was born, (yes I'm an old person-- in number only ) The things that we think of today as ancient and antique are really still there, they're just not being utilized enough.
I spent my summers at Boy Scout camps, swimming in ponds and lakes and playing baseball. I spent my winters sliding down hills, reading history books and making popcorn on an open fire. I spent my springs watching flowers sprout, bugs appear out thin air, mowing grass and watching sunsets and a few sunrises'. I spent my Fall by raking leaves for a dollar a bag, playing football, learning to tie knots for Scouts, watching the first snow fall.
Take nothing for granted, you are who you are, learn to work hard, you are only entitled to breathing, everything else is earned by innovation, ideas, action and reward.
My advice to you is to learn everything you can by reading books, books about anything and everything that interests you, and even reading books that don't interest you. Learn Math, learn Science, Learn History, learn it by reading old newspapers, magazines, Hemingway, Shakespeare, learn at least 2 languages, learn to play poker.
Live Life to the fullest, you only get one shot at it.
|When your parents dropped you off at the mall with you friends--you couldn't drive--you'd have to bring change with you to call them to pick you up hours later. If you wanted to see a movie while you were out there and you forgot to check the newspaper, you'd have to run over to the theater to check out what's playing and when.||Jeff|
|I was probably the last of my friends to get a smartphone, when I finally bowed to the pressure and allegedly upgraded to a Blackberry in early 2011 (before then I had a handy, indestructible flip phone that would go for three days without charging, RIP). While having (sort of) reliable maps on hand was great, and texting faster was definitely more convenient and made for fluid non-speaking conversations, the lure of the Blackberry's blinking red light --- signaling some kind of unexpected interfacing with the e-universe --- was a perpetual distraction. Once I got an iPhone about a year later, following months of friends telling me I HAD to be on Instagram, my attention span completely disappeared --- not a great thing for a grad student with ADHD who was already behind on progress. Now Pete Holmes's joke about Facebooking for a solid eighteen hours a day doesn't seem to be as much of an exaggeration, as I toggle between social media platforms and the capitalist, cat fancy meditation that is Neko Atsume. When I leave the US, though, I can return to my dumb phone glory days with a truly pocket sized, hot pink Samsung, which cost about £15 on a main drag in Oxford and will likely last forever. It texts, it has one terrible game, and I can't download a damn thing. It doesn't tell anyone where I am or what I'm doing, and I often completely forget I have it until I receive some form of direct human-to-human communication, maybe asking me where I am or what I'm doing. It's fantastic. Though I'll bring my iPhone to use with WiFi when I'm not in America, having pre-2007 technology on me at all times overseas has helped me realize how little I actually need to use a device in lieu of my brain and my senses, especially in a place I'm newly discovering.||Kathleen|
|We had answering machines. If we were meeting friends, and once everyone was late enough for us all to enter the "wrangling" phase, we would find a pay phone and call our answering machines to see if anyone had called to say they were late.||Brent|
|My freshman year of college, I moved to a big city and would write down directions whenever I had to go somewhere. Once I got lost because the train skipped my stop and was trying to find my way back to the dorm. I called my mom on my flip phone and asked her to look up the street I was on so she could direct me home from 3 states away.|
|My girlfriend had the same, sad flip phone for many years. When convinced to change to a different carrier, she started to cry: there wasn't a way to transport the phone's address book onward. Without those numbers, it was likely she would lose contact with everyone close to her.|
After hours of digging, I was able to run some code on her phone via a cable and extract all the data. I spent more hours cleaning up duplicates and formatting it. Then it was saved forever.
For that, and some other reasons, we're now happily married, with three smartphones.
|Going to a movie in New York is like anything else here that involves people holding space (renting apartments, riding the subway, purchasing fried croissant donuts) in that the quality of your experience correlates directly with how early you show up. For movies, this has always meant being at the theater at least thirty minutes before showtime. Today, of course, you can choose what to stare at while you wait to be entertained and inadvertently eat all your popcorn—games, conversations about public policy, EVEN OTHER MOVIES—but imagine what the experience of having "a good seat" was like before you had your own shiny pocket movie theater; the captive consumption of half an hour of inane movie trivia, country-inspired pop music, computer-generated roller coaster rides, and ads for Carmel Car Service produced from cut linoleum. Imagine what few distractions you had in your dimly-lit velveteen cinematic purgatory: Knitting! Listening to CDs! Conversation!|
I remember the day that changed, because it was the day the first iPhone was sold, and I had purchased one. I also remember the movie I watched that night, because it was the day that Ratatouille came out, and I arrived 45 minutes early. There was a couple in front of me, and while they tried to decipher a puzzle projected on the screen ("EJSMA DOBN"), I waited contently for the New York Times home page to slowly unfold on my phone. I checked stock prices! I inquired as to the weather in Cupertino! I enlarged photos with my fingers!
After a few minutes, the man in front of me turned around and asked, in hushed tones, "Is that... it?" I handed him the phone. He zoomed in on a photo of a gas station, then out. He typed, scrolled, swiped, stared. Finally, he turned to his girlfriend, said "We gotta buy these," then returned—reluctantly—to the Coke ad on the bigger, brighter screen. For my part, I checked the weather in various cities until the previews started, which is, of course, how we all express our liberty today.
|Before I had a smart phone or any phone I had a pager. Pager screens only displayed numbers so people created a kind of primitive texting using numerical codes to represent common statements (143 was I love you) and used numbers or combinations of them to represent letters (m was 177!). It was often confusing. After we broke up a boy I dated wrote me multi-page letters, physically on paper with a pencil, explaining why we should stay together using only pager code. The letters took a good deal of time to decide, and no, we did not get back together.||Emily|
|I used to travel on business in the late 90s, and found myself relishing those times when a meeting ended early and I didn't have anything else to do or there wasn't enough time to 'do' anything in a city, so I'd just go to the airport and sit in the departure lounge. My laptop had a modem and I had ways to dial in to the internet, but it wasn't a thing that was expected, it was still a thing you did only when you needed to, and mostly accepted that you'd be doing it from a hotel room or a conference room. Sometimes I'd have a book, sometimes I'd buy a stack of magazines, but most of the time? I would just sit there, staring into the air, and *thinking*. I would let the flow of departing and arriving passengers ebb around me. There was a clarity to my thoughts in those moments that was earth shattering. I once got off the plane going from SEA to LAX with the entire outline of a novel, written on a yellow legal pad. (I wrote it later, too.) Problems solved themselves. Decisions got made, not even actively, just through the act of sitting and staring into space and not putting a thing in front of my eyes.|
STORY #2: There is no more PANIC over making sure I have something to read for the plane. I still 'save' books for long plane rides but there's none of the agonizing over weight or gosh I'm in the middle of this library book but there's no way I'm traveling with a library book, or that time I had just started Harry Potter and found myself lugging a 500 page book on the plane (so many people stopped me to conspiratorially say, "Isn't it wonderful? What scene are you up to?) Nowadays, I have a reading app and if somehow there's nothing there, I have so much queued in Instapaper at any given time. There is never any chance that I don't have reading material.
|I wrote the texts I received from my crush in a special little booklet, because my phone could only manage six messages at a time or I'd get a notification that my inbox was full. Live before read receipts was just so much more peaceful, wasn't it?||Claire|
|My friends and I sent each other long, intimate emails several times a week. I would swap email addresses with an acquaintance and we'd develop a deep, intimate connection over rambling emails when we were supposed to be working. We were so vulnerable with each other and it helped us feel emotionally close to people we lived very far away from. Today I might know where my best friend is eating dinner 2,000 miles away, but our conversations are short, text-based, or (even worse) comments on Facebook posts about hot dogs or tantrums. I don't think I've made a new, close, intimate friend since I got an iPhone.|
|Maps: I constantly drew tiny maps. Maps on the backs of envelopes, on receipts. Barely maps at all, really: more like… navigational runes. Sketchy little ladders and crosses representing key intersections seen on Google Maps (we did have THAT before smartphones -- and Mapquest before that). The point was as much to look closely and commit the details to memory as it was to make a map, though I did carry them with me, sometimes only to be discovered in a pocket months later. "Bush and Sansome… why was I at Bush and Sansome?"||Robin|
|Kids had to learn phone educate. There was no little screen telling you the name of the caller before you answered, so you had to give a generic 'hello?' Once when my parents were first teaching me to answer the phone, I accidentally said 'hi' instead. I was filled with the sudden fear only little kids can build up after I realized my mistake. I was worried I had failed my only trial phone answer. And then the sweet voice of my grandma said "hi, how did you know it was me?"|
|I backpacked though Europe alone in 2006, before GPS. I bought a crappy flip phone and lost it a week in and didn't care. I got so, so lost. Wandered around backstreets in Paris for four hours one day because I couldn't find my way back to a street I recognized. I didn't know what any of the "cool" things to do were since there were no travel blogs or Instagram so I mostly just walked and ate things that looked good and didn't feel like I was missing out on anything ever. It was glorious.|
|35 years ago a girl was waiting to use a pay phone at a bar in lower Manhattan. The boy on the phone told her he would be a while and said that maybe she should use the pay phone across the street. It was a cold February night so she waited. Today, that boy and girl are my happily married parents.||Audra|
|I was in junior high and the song "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt was a hit. One of my best friends had a single mom - a cool mom - who let her record the outgoing message on their answering machine for their home phone. She used a tape recording she took from the radio to play "sorry I'm not home right now/ I'm walking into spiderwebs/ but leave a message and I'll call you back" as the outgoing message. It was so cool! I was so jealous. I vowed that if I ever had my own answering machine, I would do the same. Now, I have a cell phone with a voicemail box and I don't even want my name on the outgoing message.||Jennifer|
|When you went to an amusement park or even a shopping mall with young adult children, you needed a meeting place and time because there was no way to contact them.||JF|
|One time in high school I was feeling pretty low, probably (definitely) about some girl who didn't like me, and so I decided to take out my dad's minivan, pop in a mix-CD, and just drive. I am pretty shit at directions/orienting myself geographically/knowing my general location in spacetime, but downtown seemed like the appropriately angsty choice, and I knew how to get there, so I went. I arrived, drove around a little, realized I had no ultimate destination, and decided to go home. At which point I realized I had no idea how to get back on the freeway. I drove around, but I wasn't familiar with the area, and I'm already geographically challenged, and I had no smartphone to tell me what to do. I was lost.|
I did have a cellphone though, so I called up a friend, told her my dumb situation, and we laughed about the whole thing while she guided me back to the freeway, and back home. I ended up dating that girl a little later, in what was my first serious relationship.
I'm not going to go out and put the obvious bow on it about how smartphones are destroying interpersonal relationships and how before them we just -talked- to each other soo muuch mooore, but the dots are there for you to connect. I will say that I definitely get lost a lot less.
|In the mid 1990s I was driving to see my girlfriend. My engine exploded on the interstate. I had to walk a mile to a gas station. I had enough change on me to make one call from the pay phone. I could either call AAA or I could call my girlfriend and let her know what happened. I concluded that I could kill two birds with one stone by calling the girlfriend and having her call AAA. So I called her and told her what happened and she said, "Good, I think we should stop seeing each other." The conversation ended abruptly after that with no service call to AAA. So I got dumped over a pay phone while the smoldering ruins of my car burned a mile away. Had to walk a few miles to my parents house and call AAA from there.|
|I was on the cusp of the time between when you could crawl into computers they were so big , and the computers that fit in your pocket. Briefly I had to consult a library or a human for information. The trouble with asking a human is that they could be bullshitting you, some people do not like to admit not knowing. When it comes to the library you need a few things to find what you want. You need to know the words for the thing you are searching for. Paradoxical, though it seems, libraries are not organized by metaphors or descriptive sentences. Now omnipresent Google will always be watching over you and start to detect you're looking for something, and try to hand it to you. Be wary my knowledge searching friend, Google can be full of shit too. Better yet, be hungry and soon you'll be able to wade through the sea of information.||A Bedet|
|I sat by the radio for hours at a time just to catch my favorite song and record it on a cassette tape so that I can then listen to it anytime I wanted. Now I just star it on Spotify from my phone.||DV|
|“Do you sometimes see a piece of string outside your window?” a neighbour asked my mom in the elevator. “I wonder what it’s for.” I was grateful she didn’t have time to answer before he got out, that would mean another person in on my secret. As soon as we got home to our fifth-floor apartment, I reeled in the string like a fishing rod. There was a piece of paper at the other end. I decoded the message from a language my best friend and I devised. You know, for privacy, to keep the adults out. She’d be waiting for me in the usual spot at the usual time, it said. I ran out to the yard in front of our building. “Dinner’s at 5,” my mom called out from the fifth-floor balcony, like she usually did. —circa 1999||Jane L.|
|I once drove my car out of town and into the horizon. I ended up in a beach town where I slept on the sand until mosquitoes started eating me alive at 4 in the morning. Not knowing where I was I just kept driving after sunrise. I got lost in jungle-like roads and had to cross a creek (even though my car was a compact). I was sure that I was dying alone in the middle of nowhere. I also discovered some towns that don't even have names. I ended up making it back to the city somehow only to discover it was father's day (I obviously didn't have a calendar or watch). The realization came to me when I saw a kid running next to his dad. The dad was wearing a freshly stamped best dad in the world shirt with the kid's hand prints on it. It was kind of cute after a couple of days of pure wilderness. I drove to my dad's place and wished him a happy day. He never found out.||jhn|
|Lots of reading the back of shampoo bottles whilst sitting on the john.||Maggie|
|I used to get so lost driving around Houston when I first got my license that I would just keep driving, and every time I saw a street name I recognized, I'd turn down it. If things started getting rural, I'd turn around. Eventually I would find a highway, stop at a gas station, and ask them which direction to go to get to my neighborhood. All of this to avoid calling my mom for help and getting a nasty lecture about reading maps.||R. Browning|
|I was driving back to my dorm in the middle of a snowstorm. The drifts were two feet high.|
My '96 Chevy Lumina hit a patch of ice and I skidded, slammed into a snowbank. I wasn't hurt -- the airbag didn't even go off -- but everything went blank. After a while I realized I was whispering to myself: "I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay."
I was so scared, and so alone, and I wanted to talk to my family but the only way to reach them was with the phone my mom installed when she bought the car. It was so old that it had a cord on it. We hadn't used it in years.
An operator told me it would be $14 per minute to connect the call. My parents didn't mind the bill.
|This was right before even the earliest of smartphones, as I think I got a Droid phone within a year or two of this happening. My freshman year of college, I was a new member in a faith-based fraternity and we had a root beer kegger (I know, I know). It being only a few months into college, I didn't know very many girls to invite to these sorts of things. So I invited one of the few girls I knew from the pre-freshman year camp/orientation, whom I didn't know very well. I should also note that I had recently inherited my grandmother's 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis (the quintessential old person car) which still smelled like old lady and perfume. So I'm trying to get to this party, with a girl I don't know very well, in my old-ass car that smells super weird, and I get lost. I wrote down directions from MapQuest (which is crazy to think about now), but I just couldn't find the house in this weird, sketchy old neighborhood. I'm calling the few friends I know who will be there, and nobody is answering. I get frustrated, I'm trying to keep my cool. I give up a little and pull over and wait for someone to call me back. I turn to the girl and say "sorry, I'm an idiot." And she said, with a straight face that haunts me to this day, "Yeah, you are." I'm sure sure was being sarcastic, but it chilled 18-year-old me to the core. Anyway, we got to the party and then the cops busted it. Never went on another date with the girl. It was 2007.|
|Not much of a story but more of a lifestyle of having pages of map quests scattered all over my car and having to go through and find the ones that went back to the places I had been before!||PM|
|Prior to going on a road trip, before mapping applications were omnipresent, I would purchase physical maps of the interstates on which I would travel and the destination cities. From those, I would learn road names and cardinal directions by which I could navigate. The main difference between then and now is back then I would watch my surroundings much more closely whereas now I have a voice telling me when to turn and no longer know street names. Also, asking for directions is now a lost art as is the answering thereof. |
Bah humbug, get off my lawn, kids...I swear I'm not as old as I sound...
|When I was 14 I got hit by a car while rollerblading to a 7-11. My brother watched me flip through the air, hit the ground, skate the side of the road (like an animal prepping to die), and then pass out. My friend Antoine, who was also there, immediately started the long skate home to tell his mom. My brother, who was 12, stayed with me. |
A woman in a van arrived at the scene and asked my brother where he lived. She swooped him into a minivan and had him retrace our rollerblading path back to my parents' house, where shared the news with my family.
My parents got in their car and followed the minivan back to the intersection, where I was still unconscious, but breathing fine. That was about 20 minutes after I was hit. Eventually I was taken to the hospital, where I got a bunch of stitches and casts on both of my broken arms. But everything turned out OK, although a couple of my braces were knocked off, which gave me an extra year of orthodontist appointments.
I told this story to someone yesterday and it struck me how much a smart phone would have come into play nowadays. Antoine would not have skated home. My brother would not have gotten into a stranger's van. My parents might have been tracking my path of travel via GPS (like parents seem to do these days). Who knows, maybe I wouldn't have even skated to 7-11 in the first place. could have just stayed home and dicked around on my phone instead.
|before the cell phone there were advances we thought of as just as revolutionary. |
It was revolutionary when the phone started to tell you who was calling. You had a choice when to answer the phone.
It was revolutionary when the phone told you someone was calling whole you were already on the line, too. In my house, full of hormonal, love struck teenagers, it was painful to know that maybe a sibling, in the midst of their own passionate drama, would ignore the beeping on the line and not pick up the call you were waiting and waiting and waiting for. Then they would deny it. And you would have to wait. Was someone still on the phone?
Sometimes you would pick up to late and the answering machine recorded your conversation. And the entire family would know who left you a message. But most days there would be none. No messages. To me the dial tone itself was a long, mournful wail of loneliness. In desperation I listened to it just to replace the silence of no one trying to talk to me, until the wail turned into urgent beeping. It was essential and raw; I imagined it was blood red, circulating through our houses, ready to connect, or left open when no one was calling.
|Like everyone, I use my smartphone for on-location fact checking. Unlike most people, I used to actually work as a fact checker. So I think I was probably less annoying before I had the world's biggest repository of facts in my pocket.|
|I was always wrong. Very wrong. But everyone believed me. Everyone was wrong all the time. They couldn't refute me. I couldn't refute them. Lunchroom debates were some of the most confident conversations I've ever had. Each sentence started with, "Did you know that...?"||Matt J.|
|My dad passed on a love of gadgets to me, so I’ve always been the first one on my block, so to speak, to have the new gadget. I was one of the first people I knew who had a cell phone. I was in the USAF and I had my first on line chat in 1970 on a teletype. They also issued me a text/pager right after they came out. |
But I wasn’t the first one I knew to have a smartphone. I waited a few months, almost a year, actually. I started with the 1st generation iPhone in 2008. I don’t think I remember what it was like not to have the world at my fingertips. I often ask, “What did we do before Google?” I think I must have been one of the first people to install the Google app on my smartphone when it came out.
I do actually remember what I did before my smartphone, I used my computer. I used to plan family trips and print out all the maps, now I just send them to my phone, but that’s only back up for the in car nav system. If I was away from the house and wanted to look something up, I would jot it down in a little notebook I carried, and look it up when I got home. Now I just pull out the phone and look it up. And my notebook is on my phone now too.
When they say “there’s an app for that” they literally mean that there’s an app for that. There is an app for almost anything you can think of. There’s even an app for keeping track of your periods. I have my grocery list on my phone; I used to write it out on a piece of paper and then about half the time I’d forget to take to the store with me. I have a 2500+ book library accessible from my phone. I can make an accident claim to my insurance company from my phone; I used to have to call and wait on hold for ages. I can pay my bills from my phone, in a matter of minutes. It used to take over an hour. I can look up a recipe, in a matter of minutes, where it used to take hours sitting on the floor in front of the kitchen bookcase searching through cookbooks.
It is hard to explain to kids who don’t know anything but what it’s like now, what it was like before. They look at the 50’s and 60’s (when I grew up) like I used to look at the 1800’s.
What did I do before I had a smartphone? I read newspapers, watched TV news when I wanted to know what was going on in the world. I listened to the radio or played CD (or tapes or records) when I wanted music. I carried a paperback book everywhere I went, and I carried photos of my family in my wallet.
Honestly, it’s hard to remember what I did before I had a smartphone.