I’d like to point out that I was never technically a pre-internet kid. I was born in the great year of 1992, and even though the world wide web existed back in those dark, dark ages, I did not actively partake in its endless wonders until the early 00’s.
I had a good eight to ten years of internet free existence, and let me tell you, most days I want to hop into a time machine and transport myself back to the days when I wasn’t constantly overwhelmed with emails and Facebook messages or faced with the burden of having to think of carefully crafted tweets and witty Tumblr posts. There was no internal pressure of trying to win the internet, no constant need to verify my life via the amount of Facebook likes I received on a picture or the number of times a post was reblogged. I didn’t have to impress anyone, partly because I was only a kid and had no one to impress, but mostly because there wasn’t this invisible audience judging me from behind a screen. I could be whatever I wanted to be, and not because I could magically log onto to a computer and suddenly have access to a whole new world where I could type a word and suddenly change everything about myself. No, I had something much, much better. I had imagination.
When I was seven, my imagination ran wild. My front porch wasn’t just a porch- it was a pirate ship and I was a captain. Standing on that dusty cement, I led my crew into battle, fighting dirty with broken sticks instead of swords. Somedays I would jump ship myself and transform my porch into a schoolhouse, a bedroom, or, my favorite, a stage. I ran around my porch like I was Elton John performing at Madison Square Garden, and the blades of grass that surrounded me were my watchful spectators. Sometimes, if I was feeling a little risqué, I would break into fierce broom guitar solos like I was Jimi Hendrix reincarnated.
This is what I looked like before the internet Back in those days, I thrived off of the smell of fresh-cut grass and the feeling of mud between my toes. When it was cold and rainy, I was genuinely upset that I couldn’t escape from the four walls of my room and run around like the maniac I was. Now, I long for rainy days because they give me an excuse to stay inside. I talked to the trees like I was Pocahontas and spent my time running around neighborhood yards playing games of tag or capture the flag. I watched as my parent’s and their friends sat outside when it was nice, and never once were any of us anxious for a long-awaited email. Nobody was too busy Instagramming pictures of the food we ate or tweeting about how many fireflies we caught in a mason jar. I wasn’t tagged in any statuses about how much fun my friends had at my house. I didn’t spend hours upon hours in front of a screen.
Instead, I read books. I took off running at the first sign of the Mr. Softee truck. I listened to the radio. I swung on a tire swing. I got splinters from spending too much time on the wooden playground. I played with sidewalk chalk. Most importantly, though, I lived.
Today, we’re too busy living through the internet, making sure that everybody knows just exactly what’s going down, that we forget to actually do the living part. We’re so caught up in the idea of impressing the people of the web that we forget to actually take time to appreciate the little things and be thankful for everything that’s gone right in our lives. I love pictures of Instagrammed sunsets and cupcakes just as much as the next person, but when have we actually taken the time to look at that sunset or indulge in that cupcake? We’re no longer living in the moment, instead only living to show the world just how alive we really are. It’s a fake kind of life that only exists when we have something to show for it, whether it be a picture, a blog entry or a feed of hilarious tweets. No matter what we do, we have to have proof that we did something, ate something or thought something awesome, proof that we enjoyed ourselves, proof that we know how to be alive.
If living in 2013 is about updating my Facebook status every three minutes or creating lengthy blog posts just to remember the mundane details of Tuesday night, then I want to escape back to those pre-internet days. I don’t want to have to consult my Twitter feed in validation of my life choices, nor do I want to have to rely on Tumblr to recall the important details. I want to be able to recite the way that cupcake tasted or the way that sunset looked by heart.
Sometimes I think I’m being too harsh on today’s world and over-glorifying the ways of the past. After all, it’s a fun procrastination activity to scroll through your Facebook timeline and see just how annoying you were at fourteen. Occasionally those mundane statuses really do bring back memories long repressed. I like taking hipster Instagram pictures and I thrive off the feeling of being re-tweeted and followed. I’m not saying social media and our desire to live on the web is a bad thing; that would make me a hypocrite seeing as I’m constantly refreshing Tumblr, watching Youtube videos and trying to model my hair after those girls in the Pinterest tutorials. What I’m saying is that I hate the fact that I no longer find time to sit outside. I hate the fact that I passed the age where it’s socially acceptable to run around in the mud. I hate the fact that the old jingle of the Mr. Softee truck is no longer my summer anthem, instead it’s just that song that interrupts my afternoon naps. I hate the fact that the tire swing that’s hung in the old, hollowed out oak tree in my yard hasn’t been touched in years. I hate the fact that my imagination seems to have run off, leaving me abandoned. But most of all, I hate the fact that I feel like I have to take pictures and post them on Facebook for fear of forgetting. I don’t want to forget how to feel, how to remember, or how to live. I just want to live for myself and not for the people online.
That’s what pre-internet life was like. Living for the small, mundane details, not for the amount of likes on Facebook.