The tech leap between our childhood and what our kids experience today is phenomenal. Most of us are still holding on to an understanding of this digital world, but soon we will slip out of its grip like Stallone dropping us from a wire over a canyon.
Look back now on experiences that are set to disappear from this land.
That moment of seeing all those CDs displayed on the shop wall while 2001 Space Odyssey played in your head, each one screaming with an album design to attract your attention. Alternatively, you had the artists that went the other way and you could be faced with Prince’s Black Album (Come on, man. You’re better than that… you put a fucking hologram on Diamonds & Pearls!)
Once a selection was made, the onus then fell on you to take care of this vessel of songs because if anything happened to that little silver disc you would forever be waiting for the moment Don’t Look Back In Anger suddenly jumped to the shittier track of Hey Now! and you’d be forced into making an embarrassing CD single, like a loser.
Perhaps the biggest change now is that no longer will there be that ‘pre-party hour’ where you studiously stared at your carefully ordered tower deciding which albums were going to give you the right edge of ‘popular but deep’. Waiting to hear someone stop mid conversation and say “Wow, who’s this?” (Whether you wandered over and begun lecturing them on Live’s album before Throwing Copper and immediately make them lose interest, was up to you)
Fucking Spotify. We’re never going to get through an entire song again, are we?
TV That Doesn’t Care Where You Are
Miss your TV show? Well your only option is to wait to hear from your friend you know doesn’t go out and have to decipher their nonsensical synopsis along and ridiculous criticism (“Jesus, Matt! I don’t care if the aliens are supposed to be taller, just tell me if it really was Mulder’s sister!”) It really reinforces that you need more discipline in your life and if you want to see Pamela running across that beach during the credits – you get your ass home on time.
This severe scheduling put the family unit to the highest test. While we think of a Dad ruffling the hair of his son sitting on the floor in front of the couch when Balki would infuriate Cousin Larry, we also remember the military precision that would engage during ad breaks. Sister to the toilet, Mum to check on dinner, brother drinking straight from the coke bottle with the fridge door open, Dad flicking it over to check the scores/news/show he’d rather watch causing younger brother to Rain-Man count how long the commercials should last and slowly cultivate his anxiety for later life. Finally, someone sounds the alarm “It’s back on!”
This ‘On Demand’ age we’re living in? The future is now (but I still want to be able to Tron myself into the TV – Get on with it Spielberg.)
Not Knowing What Your Friends Were Doing On Holiday
It’s safe to assume everyone checks out at least a week before that final school bell goes for the holidays. Most of us even gave up on the strictness of uniforms and the teachers could already taste the gin that they had hidden in the staff lounge. While the English teacher replays To Kill A Mockingbird for the fourth time, we would chat about what we thought the holidays would hold. None of really had a clue, but the possibilities were so damned magical. The parties, the girls, beaches. You found yourself genuinely excited at how tipped your hair would be after a few weeks in the sun. Chicks dig that guy from Sugar Ray, right?
Once you parted ways at 3.30 – there was no way to know what in God’s name they were up to while you were confined to a roasting caravan with your whining sister and farting father for the idyllic family vacation. When you came together for that first soul crushing day back at school, all your holiday stories became a massive pissing contest of who jumped their bike the highest or saw Jo Beth Taylor in some remote camping ground. Even now that art form is gone. No longer are we…
…able To Bullshit
‘Yeah, Marilyn Manson definitely had a rib removed. It was just after he finished playing Paul in Wonder Years’. If you were confident enough you could convince your mates of the half story you were told. I mean you heard it conveyed to you with such conviction, how could it NOT be true? No one had infinite knowledge in their pocket in 1999.
You ‘met’ a girl while on holidays? That story will get closer and closer to you getting laid and her falling in love, but you had to leave to come home. She was heartbroken, but next year you’ll see each other again. Odds are that you spent the time alone in your tent, yet in the presence of your friends you became Antonio Banderas. There was never any way they would know you got insanely sunburnt just sitting on the beach watching all the much cooler guys with pewter necklaces and Sugar Ray tips chat up the girls.
Now just mention half a name and if that girl isn’t found on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or any of the as yet non-existent ways to hand over our privacy, then she doesn’t exist and you’re full of shit.
If you’re going to lie, create a fake profile first.
Fearing the phone call.
A gauntlet of hurdles were thrown up in front of you just so you could call that girl you like.
The seven layers of hell you went through to get her number from a friend of a friend, or maybe you just went into full creep mode and looked it up in the phone book, but either way the butt-puckering sweats you endured as you picked up the receiver to make a call, is now resigned to the past. No longer are teens worried about who will be the gatekeeper. Will it be the Mum who is mildly concerned that a boy is calling her daughter? or will it be Dad who definitely doesn’t want anyone calling his daughter and harbors no need to make you feel comfortable about that conversation.
Worst of all you get the older sister, who knows your older brother and by-association assumes you’re a dickhead too.
Now you could be sitting on the toilet and easily test the waters with a text. If it doesn’t work, you can play it off as “sorry, that wasn’t meant for you. Lol” and move on with your life without the nightmares of whispered conversations that will inevitably be had when you rock up to school the next day.
Taking A Good Photo Through Pure Luck
You’re at a party with all of your friends and there’s usually only one person that’s wandering around with a camera hanging around their wrist. They are the one who has been (usually) self-charged with documenting the night. People with tongues out, mid laugh, girls smushing the entire side of their heads together. Were your eyes closed? No one will know for weeks or even months. Of all the assumed amazing moments that were captured, you’d be likely to get only 4 pictures in focus, heads in shot, not up your nose while checking the camera.
Think of all those undeveloped rolls sitting in your Mums cupboard. How many memories were lost to the One-Day-I’ll-Take-All-Of-Them-Down-To-The-Chemist-And-See-What-They-Are pile? Or if they did manage to get a random set developed the ones where you took pictures of your younger sister crying because you wouldn’t let her use the camera, hold a special place in your heart.
Racing For The New Release At Blockbuster
I’ve never peddled faster knowing True Lies had just been released at Blockbuster. Hills bore no obstacle and I didn’t even bother to lock the bike up out the front while I hunted for Arnold’s latest run at saving America… back when terrorism was funny. If you missed a run at the cinema you were in a silent mourning period until that white box with its blue and gold ticket hit the shelf months later. The win didn’t immediately come when you entered the store and saw the shelves packed with Schwarzenegger’s cocked smile behind his silver handgun. They were just decoys. The sons of bitches at Blockbuster thought it would be funnier to get your hopes up only to smash them when you realised you had to search behind each and every one of those cases for the real treasure.
If you found that last generic case that was just a little heavier than the rest, it was like Jesus’ light warming you. But the darkness could just as easily envelop your world if all those cases were flat against the wall and you missed out.
While you plotted ways to take revenge on your Mum for not driving you, you were forced to look for other options, because you’ll be damned if you’re going home empty handed on a Friday night. Fuck you Four Weddings and Funeral, no self-respecting 16-year-old boy has an interest in dry British wit when you can sneak The Crow’s R-rating past a dead eyed employee that just wants to go home and sleep off his hangover.
Dial Up Internet
Get your Dial Up jokes out pretty quick – the new generation will have as much understanding as us listening to someone complain about cranking an engine. Yet while we have your ear… eyes, whatever… We can hark back to a time when communication came in and out on one line, and there wasn’t enough room for a phone and the internet. Some of those battles were epic. If you managed to find a gap that didn’t have your auntie and Mum talking or your sisters’ friends recapping what happened only hours ago at school, then you hit that Dial button and sit listening to the industrial screaming of cyberspace hoping for that beautiful moment your Netscape connects.
While you sat in awe surfing through the 14 sites available or just went straight to the place you knew had the best Alicia Silverstone pictures you prayed that your sisters’ other friends didn’t call, kicking you off mid download of a single image of Batgirl.
The ‘Women just can’t read maps’ projection of a guy’s inability to drive, is something that can’t be leaned on any longer as a reason you got the family lost. Gone are the days where Dad would travel in stages “Ok, so if we get to X road then we go right. Then up To Y street” Once those micro-journeys were made, the map was back out and the process started again. Directions are now casually demanded you take them and as if to re-enforce our subservient nature as a people (or maybe it’s just Apple weeding out the ones that are easily suggestible) there are those of us that will drive into a lake if the little rectangle tells us to.
Searching For A Taxi or Main Road To Get Home After A Night Out.
Just turned 18 and it’s likely that you were first one into the club, last one out. That youthful energy burns bright. Only when you’re forced to stop swinging your arms to Block Rockin’ Beats and realise the night is over you had to determine a mode of transport home. Winter’s early mornings used to be spent throwing hands in the air at cabs that flew past, regardless of roof lights or the amount of people already crammed in. Otherwise you were left hunting for the oasis of a taxi rank where you got to stand in your shiny silver shirt freezing for half an hour but at least you weren’t in the position of the girls in front of you that were turning blue in their string halter tops and shockingly short skirts, slowly adding hypothermia to their outfit. When you did manage to get to the front of the queue you were generally faced with a vehicle from Mad Max duct-taped together.
Now we can choose which stranger’s car we get into based on how many more drinks you want to get in before you get a polite notification that your ride is pulling up at the door for you.