Culture

Why the 1990s Ruled (You Know, Before We All Became Crazy for Gadgets)

Remember the 1990s and going for coffee and chatting with friends? No one had cell phones on the table, and no one was taking pictures of their cappuccinos and posting them to Instagram. You could sneak out to a party without anyone tagging you on Facebook, and your heart would skip a beat when the phone rang: was it your crush calling or just your mom? Things were simpler back then. Now we’ve all gone freaking crazy with our smartphones and screens.

Our Beloved Smartphones

I’ll admit it, I suffer from a bit of a digital addiction as much as the next person. But I’m feeling the need for a digital “cleanse” soon. It’s become nearly impossible to sit through anything (dinner, a movie, a kids play date) without someone (or everyone) checking email every 25 seconds. In the ’90s, if you even had email to check, you would wait until you got home. You’d log on to AOL (cue the dial-up sounds that we all knew so well) and wait for those delicious words: “You’ve Got Mail!” Somehow, we all survived without reading the mail coming in real time.

Those Damned Cameras

Whether it’s to post to Instagram, a blog, or just to admire later, taking pictures of food has gotten way out of hand. Especially in restaurants. It seems that every cozy dinner my husband and I escape to is at some point interrupted by a bright flash at a nearby table. I’m not completely sure what the obsession is (especially if you didn’t even cook it yourself?!), but a couple of decades ago this sort of thing was not happening. Could you imagine eating dinner somewhere, only to have the person at the next table whip out a giant Canon camera (with detachable flash) and initiate a photo shoot with a plate of linguine Alfredo? It’s ridiculous, right? It’s just as ridiculous now. If you want to see pictures of the food you’ve just purchased, try the restaurant’s website or Instagram account.

Caller ID

Before cell phones equipped with caller ID, answering the phone was like playing social Russian Roulette. It begins to ring. Should you answer or let it go to the answering machine? Better yet: you’re waiting for a call, but need to leave the house. What to do?! You don’t want to wait around for that potential date to call, but you’re dying to chat. Every time you’d hear that “brrrrrrrrring” your heart would skip a beat. But now, with caller ID, there’s no mystery. You can decide in a split second if you want to talk or send the call to voicemail. And are you going to send a message by declining the call after a ring or two? Or will you just silence it and make the person think you’re unavailable? These were games we didn’t have the luxury of playing in 1995…

Selfies

I blame Apple for this one. It’s one thing to want to document an important moment with a photo, but it’s quite another to engage in a photo shoot with yourself. And don’t even get me started on selfie sticks. Remember the time when we tried to take pictures of ourselves with a poorly aimed camera? You hoped that you would even end up in the shot. And you would only take one or two, for fear of wasting too much film, or space on your memory card. But then Apple had to introduce the front-facing camera, and now it’s duck lips and narcissism for everyone.

GPS

 

Ok, this is one I can get behind. With arguably the world’s worst sense of direction, I could get lost in my own town. (Ok, I already have…) This beautiful addition to my phone and car has saved my lost butt on so many occasions, I can’t even count. In the ’90s, I was printing out Mapquest directions and putting everyone around me in danger as I tried to interpret them with one eye on the road. Thank you, Google Maps, I heart you.