The fam and I were on our way from church one evening when, no sooner than we pulled out of the parking lot did Bae ask, “Can I listen to my music?” Her mom and I both said, “No.” in unison. The kids wanted to listen to bands like Bruno Mars, Lil’ Wayne (a.k.a. “Weezy”), and Selena Gomez (sans The Bieber – Bae can’t stand Justin Bieber). We weren’t quite ready for them to tune us out.
Adi suggested to Bae and the boys that we should all just talk. No music, no videos on the smartphone, but a good old-fashioned, face-to-face, honest-to-goodness gabfest. So we began to talk. Just about stuff and things and the not so important. Light easy conversation. Until Bae asked,
“Dad, who won the NBA finals last year?”
“I’m pretty sure it was the Mavericks, ” I replied.
The Boy chimes in, “The Heat won.”
Oz, the new addition to the DMM fam shouts, “Feet won!”
The Boy, ready to settle this in hopes that he will be able to sneak onto YouTube says, “Wait! Let’s google it!”
Adi rolls her eyes and says, “Kids, you’ll never believe this, but once upon a time there was no Google.”
There was silence. You would have thought someone had told them that texting had become a crime punishable by dual thumb removal.
I continued where my wife left off. “Before there was Google, people had to settle a dispute by relying on the strength of their argument. If someone had told me to ‘look it up’ in 1989, I would have, well, looked up. Before Google, a debate could go on for days. You had to bring others into the fray to see if they could support your point of view. It was a lot of fun that reaped much satisfaction once you proved your point. Kinda like saying ‘IN YOUR FACE!’, but on the inside (my old friends know that I was more inclined to say it out loud, but I AM trying to make a point to my kids).”
“In 1989, if we missed a great football play on television or missed something particularly funny on a television show, we just missed it. There was no TiVo or any other DVR service. You had to rely on the storytelling skills of someone else to fill you in. The replay was usually told with great gusto and excitement and was often embellished. It was all very entertaining.”
My daughter interrupted me. “You mean you couldn’t rewind or pause television? Y’all actually had to watch commercials? *gasp*”
The Boy, being the smart acre that he is says, “That’s funny. I bet you guys didn’t have smartphones either. Ha ha!”
Adi, with a grin says,”No, we didn’t have smartphones, cell phones, or tablets. While cell phones had been invented, most people could not afford them. If you wanted to communicate with someone far away, then you called them from a landline or you wrote them a letter.”
“Or you ‘beeped’ them,” I added.
***blank zombie stares from the kids***
“There was a pocket-sized device called a pager or a “beeper” that one would call from a landline. The person could not answer your call, but the device would beep at them until they turned it off and looked at the phone number of the person who was calling them. Then they would find a payphone…”
***At this moment, I officially began to speak Mandarin to my kids -Beeper, landline, payphone***
“Unbelievable. That’s crazy,” says The Boy.
“I couldn’t have lived in 1989. I gotta be able to Instant Message,” says Bae.
Adi and I looked at each other with a knowing smile, remembering the good times of the 1980′s. A special decade not needing the tech toys of today to reach out to each other and connect. Before Facebook. Before Twitter. Before having the tech available to distract from personal interaction. Technologies such as the internet and mobile has made communicating faster and easier than ever, but those were good times.
Good times, indeed.