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The Internet influences a huge number of aspects of our day to day lives. We rely on it for work, play, education, information, socialising, shopping…you name it, the internet is there. Yet there was a time, not so long ago, where we did not have the internet. Which generation really has things better?
I am 33 years old, one of the first 672,968 people to form the ‘80s Child generation. Growing up in the ‘80s was awesome. Everything was really spangly. We had the Muppets (the REAL ones, not the cheap ‘90s revamp). We had uber-cool magazines like Smash Hits and Look-In, and enthralling book (ones made of paper) where you got to Choose Your Own Adventure. We had Jem dolls and Thunder Cats. We had Wham before George Michael started getting arrested on a weekly basis. Leg warmers were sexy and all the cool kids looked like they’d just stepped out of the trailer for Footloose (no, not the remake).
At this time I lived on the edge of here:
This of course meant lots of time outside, running, jumping, climbing trees. I was pretty healthy and happy as I recall, and blissfully unaware of how lucky I was.
I also had one of these, which I adored:
I loved this little beige and brown box so much I received this one for my birthday. This year.
My computer was one of the most up to date pieces of technology available to the blue collar family, and that was sometimes a financial push. Games took an age to load, and made a noise like this while loading (the special effects weren’t much better, they sounded like this). Everyone fought to get the biggest possible joystick (the ‘controller’, if you will) for the games where you didn’t just have to smash the arrow keys as fast as you could in order to win.
Friends would come round and we would play (usually one player at a time because not many people had two joysticks, that was a bit posh) for about an hour, then we would go outside to play or meet our friends on the common. We might even have to phone them first. On a telephone with a big dial in the middle, that was plugged into the wall and clicked in your ear for every notch of the dial.
That’s where computers and computer technology sat for an ‘80s kid. There was no internet. The computer was a toy like any other, an especially clever one, but just a toy nonetheless. It was rare to spend a significant amount of time on it, and I did not mourn my Commodore when we were apart. I was too busy being outside, playing, being active, and interacting with friends in the physical world.
We could not Check-In on Facebook to show our friends we were at the rec, we had to knock for them. There was no Twitter through which to tell them that we were going to buy Bazooka Joes from the Happy Shopper, we had to scream it across the street. We couldn’t even humiliate our friends by posting videos of them on YouTube, we had to wait until our parents drove the 10 miles into town to get our film developed, or post it to BonusPrint and wait 2 weeks for it to come back, then physically go round showing the photos to people. We had no Skype, FourSquare, Instagram, Pinterest…no Google.
We had no Google.
It might be my rose tinted specs and hazy memory causing unfair bias, but I don’t think the world our children occupy today works like mine did, for better or for worse. Obviously I cannot speak from personal experience about growing up with the internet, but that’s what the comments section is for. Feel free correct me, give you opinion, or simply add more facts to the mix.
From my own experiences, this is what I see:
There is no conclusion. In the 1980s, my growing up time, I’d like to think we were a little healthier, a little safer, and maybe even a little happier. However growing up in the present day offers an extraordinary wealth of opportunity, information, and connections that just didn’t exist when I was small.
I’m not sure which I would have preferred given the choice, and as much as I love the idea of being taught code from a young age so it came more naturally to me, and having Google by my side from birth to answer all those nagging questions I couldn’t answer, I think I would chose the one I had.
NB: Television. I really didn’t want to get into the television debate within the post itself as I think that deserves a whole post of its own. Kids in the ‘80s did watch a fair bit of TV when they weren’t doing other stuff. Television viewing is increasing in over 35s and declining in younger audiences who are taking to the internet to watch the same shows via a different medium. This, I feel, convolutes the issue so I’ve purposefully chosen to leave this part of the discussion for another day. If you have something you’d like to ‘air’ (sorry) about this topic of conversation be my guest and post away in the comments field. I may use your comment in a television based post unless you ask me not to.
Cute baby with laptop via BigStock
Countryside image via Google Maps
Front room photo via Laura Phillips
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