Life before the Internet: a tale of true horrors

Bob Mackey

My computer recently suffered what we in the nerd industry call “crapping its pants.”

Windows XP was unwilling to communicate with my hard drive, so I had to wipe things clean and start anew. As is the nature with all anal-retentive individuals, I had my files backed up and neatly organized, so it wasn’t a major disaster. I carefully replaced my files in alphabetical order then counted the hairs on the back of my hand 13 times before undergoing the ritualistic bloodletting that follows every major computer problem.

But for a few hours, I was completely without the Internet and forced to rebuild my life piece by piece.

Don’t let your parents fool you: Life was no better 20, 30, or even 40 years ago when they grew up. In fact, the Earth was an uninhabitable wasteland until around 1995, lacking culture and electronic social networking. I call this period “The Second Dark Ages,” when even the laughter of children sounded very similar to the last wheezing of a leukemia-ridden cat.

Think about it, and thank your lucky stars you live in 2007.

But what if you somehow stepped into a magic time portal and wound up in the somewhat-recent year of 1992? Let’s say while in 1992 you wanted to watch a particular television program. You’d actually have to sit down and wait for it to air instead of downloading a high-resolution video file of it after it left the air.

And what about music? In 1992, the world did not have such a cavalier attitude toward stealing. Once, people actually paid more than $10 for their albums, most having only two good songs, one of which was inescapable due to radio play. Thanks to the cost of music, these people of the past did nothing but listen to terrible songs and weep, trying desperately to justify their purchases with tears.

Our ancestors also lacked the friends we future people make every day. Why, on MySpace I have nearly 100 friends, many of whom I have met or seen outside my window at night. A few decades ago, you’d have to buy an expensive, heavy Rolodex to have this many friends.

Perhaps the most important use of the Internet is that it allows writers such as me to work from home, giving you something to read for upwards of 45 seconds. Don’t try to imagine how the world would be if this wasn’t so.

Bob Mackey is a graduate student in English and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].