How Did We Function?




How did we manage? How did we function before cel phones and the plethora of other smart personal devises and virtual platforms we rely on to stay connected? –

Not to mention the unfathomable gift of the World Wide Web-


How? How did we do it?

How in the world did we find each other?

How did we know what was going on in the world and what we should be concerned about? How were we able to prioritize our time?

Have privacy? Feel relevant?

Find our perfect match?


How did anyone ever manage to pay their bills? Check their credit? Remember their mothers phone number or find their way anywhere. -Like, Ever.


What would we do if our phones or smart watches didn't tell us how many steps we'd taken each day? Would we have to actually COUNT our steps to make sure we took enough?

How would I know if my heart was okay?

How could I keep track of my health?

How would we know if we'd done enough each day to keep us on the right trajectory for optimal performance?


Seriously, how in the world did we get through a day?



In the 'before times' people had wind up alarm clocks. What a nightmare.

You had to actually wind them every day, and if you didn't, they wouldn't work.

You had to remember to do it too- on your own.

-You couldn't just set the alarm on your phone or put it into your google calendar.

There was no Siri, no Alexa.


Just people.


There were landline phones too- attached to the wall with wires so you couldn't walk around the house and do stuff while you were talking.

There was no Bluetooth-

You had to sit or something with one big thing called the receiver against your ear, talking into the

mouthpiece on the other end, and just do that one thing.


Crazy, right?


There used to be mailboxes on the corners everywhere -phone booths too.

If you wanted to say something to someone that didn't live near you, you wrote it all down on paper, (like an e-mail) then folded it and placed it inside of an envelope. After that, you put the person's mailing address on the front of it, your return address somewhere, you put a stamp on it (stamps are things you buy at the post office that represent certain denominations of money that stick to envelopes) and THEN you went to a mailbox and dropped it inside. The mailman came to check the mailbox and took the letters away to be mailed.



If you sent someone a letter, In three to five days your letter would arrive at the address you wrote on the envelope and your friend could open it, read it, and then write you back.


You couldn't read back over what you'd said in the letter, you had to remember, or make a whole copy and file it somewhere, like, in the physical world.

And you couldn't change your mind and delete it. It was a forever document.


Most people wrote letters to stay in touch with each other before all of our modern advances happened.

Unlimited coverage hadn't been invented yet. Long distance (that means anywhere out of town) was very expensive and charged by the minute, like a bad international cel plan.


You had to work it out in advance if you wanted to get together. Decide where you were going and what time you would meet.. and you had to be on time.

You couldn't text to say you were running late.

You couldn't call and suggest another place if they were already on the way-

No one anywhere had a phone that traveled with them.



People did this for HUNDREDS of years- and they managed to meet up all over the world and even have World Wars and things, although in the 20th century telegrams helped to speed things up.

But you had to go to the 'Telegraph Office' if you wanted to send one of those and tell someone what you wanted to say while they keyed it into a machine to send.

Someone would type it out on the receiving end on a typewriter (the thing that came after letters, but before computers) then it was delivered to its recipient.



How did we survive? How did society make any progress at all?


Now we have FaceTime, I Chat, WhatsApp, Google, Zoom, Messages, Tweets, Instagram, Tick Toc, Messenger, Tumblr, Texting, and we even talk to each other on our cel phones or mobile devices occasionally.



We have unlimited talk and text plans, unlimited data, and everything you can imagine for ease of communication with each other. We now live in a vast ocean of connectivity.


What puzzles me is how it feels so much harder. Why is that?


We're all savvy now at getting to the point in as few words as possible, and we can send those words in an instant- for free!


You'd think this would be a great time for words- but no.

Now we have to find the right emoji to express what we could say with words, except words would take too long, and we might be texting while driving or something.

(Don't do it. That's bad.)


People used to sit and think about what they really wanted to say, take the time to choose the right words, then begin.. Now we blast out everything we're feeling every moment of everyday, sharing personal, intimate details of our lives, hoping we're liked and shared and re-tweeted.

Maybe even start Trending.


But we feel more alone, more isolated, less understood. How is that even possible?

Now we get it all in real time, but we feel farther apart, like flotsam, drifting in a vast ocean of connectivity.

At times it feels like I've become some loosely held together idea of myself - shifting the perspective of my virtual lens to sharpen the focus on different aspects of the 'me' I present in this digital sea I tread in that pressures me to wear too many faces, to be too many things.

I'm pulled this way and that by these strange currents of code and analytics.

One small shift in these tides could delete me. Forever.

It can be very unsettling.



Does anybody know what happened?

Please let me know if you figure it out.


Seriously.


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© 2018 Leslie Blackshear Smith