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Today, I read this article about how people born in the late 70s and early 80s were the last generation not to have grown up consumed by social media and computers.

It’s true — I didn’t have Facebook until I was out of college. How weird is that, my young friends? I got MySpace even after I got Facebook, oddly enough.

We got a computer when I was about 12 (I think). It was a big, old clunky thing that sat in the living room and I was just amazed I could type things that would just pop up on screen. When we first got it, my mom typed “Hi Ericka” on the screen before I came into the room and I just thought it was so cool.

The closest thing we had to really occupying our time digital wise, was a nintendo but I’ve never been into video games and would only use for an hour or so once a week.

I have to say, I’m thankful technology wasn’t where it is now when I was a kid. I hate to see a 10-year-old glued to a smart phone. I hate the instant gratification that comes with photos. I was always obsessed with photos and would regularly take rolls in high schools and spend extra to get them developed in an hour – just hoping they turned out. There’s evidence of this in the PILES of old photos from high school with people I couldn’t even name anymore.

However, I’m glad we lived in the moment more than living for the photo of the moment back then. My summers weren’t dominated by phones, they were filled with running outside, jumping on the trampoline, making plays and dances with my sisters and imagining a million “bad guy” scenarios with my friends and cousins.

We sat around with family for hours and no one had to take a call. I liked to watch TV and movies but even those were less important. There was no binge watching, no On Demand, no recording and fast forwarding. Of course you could do that, but it required a lot more so we never did.

Yes, I remember playing many rounds of Oregon Trail in the school computer lab — that was the only thing we could do! And I played more games of that than I ever have Candy Crush, Farmville or anything else (which is 0 times, by the way.)

I learned the Dewey Decimal system and wrote papers, even in college, by tracking down the right books and reading from them. I rarely ever used the Internet for work in college, believe it or not. I didn’t have a laptop and did all my studying the old school way, with no internet in sight.

My AOL screen name was Ela5000 and I was obsessed with instant messenger, but was only able to use it when I was at home and no one was using the phone. Aww, I still remember that bang, bang, shhhh sound AOL made as it was “connecting to the Internet.”

I once thought I met Kate Winslet in an AOL chat room. After watching the movie “Titanic,” I was obsessed and looked her up via screen name. I asked her if she was the real Kate Winslet and she said yes. I asked her a few questions about making the movie, which she answered without jokes. I guess it could have been her, who knows? We lost touch 🙂

It’s fun to reminisce about the old days, when I used to print out my chat conversations with my friends because I was afraid I’d forget all the witty, memorable things we’d said to one another (yeah, right). I recently threw away an entire box full of chats printed out from when I was 16.

For the most part, I’m glad when we had sleepovers, they were minus the cell phones. We were just with one another. Slumber parties and stupid moments were to be remembered only in our minds — not in embarrassing photos or moments to be posted online for everyone to see. It makes me sad that some people’s mistakes get blasted the world wide web because those moments aren’t who we really are, but we all have them.

As a digital media professional, I love technology and all the amazing things we can do now with communication, advertising, data, etc. but there was something sweet about the old days that I will always miss. And no generation after mine will ever remember what that was like. One day when I’m really old, I can tell the young people about the days  before people had computers and they won’t believe it was as recently as 1991!

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