Imagine for a moment that it’s 1975 and you’re a twenty-something looking to toss back a few beers with friends. You can’t shoot out a few text messages and choose the most appealing option from a variety of friends.
You can’t e-mail your best buds like I do on Friday afternoon and see what kind of shenanigans they’re getting into tonight and you certainly can’t rip off a couple of Snapchats from your desk with a caption that reads “let’s get fucking ripped tonight.”
No, no. The only real option is to call your friend on their home phone. You make a plan to meet at some bar at 8:30 p.m. and they would show up. That was it. There was no bailing last second or a text message asking if you’d like to change plans and go to a bar uptown rather than downtown.
There were no “on my way now” text messages. No Instagram pictures that needed to get taken. You simply showed up at the place you were supposed to show up to and drank beer with your friend. If you wanted to make a move to another bar it happened organically and you weren’t texting another group of friends to see what bar they were at.
The uncertainty of a night out in in the 70s or 80s when no one was using a cell phone was what made the night so fun and crazy. I love hearing stories from my parents about nights out they had in college or visiting friends in a different city because they always seem so far-fetched and out of reach for me.
I have a lot of fun with my gadgets and gizmos in 2017. I definitely would not want to live in a world without my cell phone but just being alive and able to survive in this pre-cell phone era is a huge accomplishment.
If I’m away from my phone for more than an hour or so I legitimately get withdrawals. It’s a sad fact of life but it’s true as fuck.
You ever been lost on a back road somewhere and have to pull up Google Maps on your phone while driving? It’s really fucking annoying – and dangerous to boot.
Now just imagine that same scenario but instead of pulling up Google Maps you have to veer off onto the side of the road, get a map made out of paper from the glove compartment, and then use your wits to figure out where you are on said map and how to get to your destination. Fuuuuuuck that.
Last weekend, I used Google Maps to walk from an apartment in the East Village to another apartment near Gramercy Park. Do you know what I would have had to do if I didn’t have a cell phone to figure that out? I would have been forced to stop a stranger on the street or a worker in a shop and ask for directions. The horror!
The wildest thing to me about the pre-cell phone era is not the use of navigation apps, though. It’s that people stuck to their word. Humans have always been flaky, sure, but I think before cell phones existed people, in general, were just more reliable.
Nowadays if you want to meet someone for a drink there’s like a 50/50 chance that you’re going to show up to the rendezvous point and get a text message as you’re ordering your first beer that says, “Hey, something came up I’m not gonna be able to make it. My bad, man.” And that’s not a big deal in this day and age because you can just text another person and see if they want to link up.
If this was 1975 though? Your friend who said they were showing up at 8:30 p.m. to a bar doesn’t show you had to just assume they got kidnapped or were murdered right? People were more dependable back then. More authentic. It’s not that I would want to live in that generation and this is not an indictment on our current one. It’d just be nice if we were all a little less flaky. That’s all. .
Image via Mental Floss