Friday, December 30, 2011

I Am Glad I Was a Teen Before the Internet

In the late 90’s when I was in high school, the internet was still obscure. I remember my oldest brother telling me about it, sitting me at his computer and telling me to look something—anything—up. I had no clue what in the world I would ever want to look up online. I was always miffed when teachers required a research paper to include an online reference. Can’t we just use normal books from the library? (A few years later in college, everything changed and we were required to have one book reference and we grumbled about that). My senior year I created an email account and I discovered AOL instant messenger. And now I am an internet junkie. I love it and would probably curse my existence if it were ever taken away.
But thinking about my teenagehood and teenagehood today, I gotta say, I am glad the internet didn’t play such a big part for me during those years.
I get a little nostalgic when I think about how things happened then.
When a boy called, it was pretty major. Either he had asked for my phone number (pretty bold!) or he looked me up in the phone book (what fortitude!), paced around for a long little while, his fingers hovering over the touch tone buttons, and finally found the gumption to dial the numbers. We had family phones back then, so most likely one of my parents would have answered. Family rumors would circle immediately. It’s a boy! And he asked for Lara! I’d search for the cordless phone so I could retreat into my bedroom or at least a closet for some privacy. I’d carefully listen for the sound of a sibling (or nosy mother) lifting up another receiver in the house to listen in.
It was sheer torture when I had to leave the house and not knowing whether or not I would miss a phone call (no caller ID either).
Now days, Facebook, texting, email, and other technological advances have made things so much easier. And I think that devalues it a little bit.
Everyone is friends with everyone on Facebook. Sending a poke or a Facebook message as a way of flirting is so diluted that it loses its affect.
And don’t get me started on email.
I had a knack for having long-distance “relationships” as a teen. A guy I met at summer camp. An international pen pal. Crushes sent across the world for 2-year missions. A friend of a friend who lived out of state that I fell for. I have boxes and boxes of handwritten letters. (Yes—handwritten). Because long-distance phone charges still existed back then. Oh the anguish of waiting days and weeks for news from my beau. Oh the exaltation of seeing that envelope in the mailbox, my name carefully printed in his handwriting. Slowly fingering the pages of the letter. Knowing his hand, his pen had touched the paper. Knowing his lips had brushed the envelope as he sealed it. Smelling the paper, sometimes detecting the slight scent of his cologne. Pictures—real printed pictures—a little frayed around the edges falling out of the folds of the paper. Smudges and spills.Crossed out words. So many clues to a far-away love that an email cannot convey.
Life was a little more romantic then.

1 comment:

Stephanie May Anderson said...

You are making me miss the past!!! I totally remember stretching our extra long phone cord into my bedroom so i could have some privacy on the phone. the internet would have ruined my life as a teenager, I am 100% convinced of that!


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