Before the internet, you would stand in line for the bathroom and stare off into space without fear of looking pathetic.
Before the internet, you would make a music video to a Brittney Spears song and then leave it on the camcorder for your parents to laugh at when they found it one day in the future, because there was nowhere to post it.
Before the internet, you would move from one city to another and no one at your new school would know anything about your past unless you told them. They would have no idea you used to pee your pants when you laughed too hard or that your best friend had been a Barbie doll named Starlet.
Before the internet, if you had a disagreement with your cousin about the names of the Seven Dwarfs in Snow White, you had to simply agree to disagree, unless one of you happened to have a book on the subject on hand or could run to the library to check one out.
Before the internet, you went to the movies to see Shrek, and no one took your picture unless Mom dusted off the point-and-shoot camera and lugged it to the theater, which she never did.
Before the internet, you would write your best friend Jessica a letter and cross your fingers that she still remembered your inside jokes by the time it arrived.
Before the internet, you spent hours practicing your signature for the back of your library card, only to mess it up horribly in permanent ink and be overcome by deep regret every time you spied it in your velcro wallet.
Before the internet, when someone asked you out, you just had to use your best judgement as to whether or not they were a psychopath and go from there.
Before the internet, you would watch You’ve Got Mail on VHS every summer on repeat at your aunt and uncle’s farm in rural Iowa because you’d already exhausted conversation with all your family members and walked around everywhere and played all the games you knew.
Before the internet, you’d play Detective Agent on CD Rom every Saturday morning until your little brother scratched it beyond repair and your mom forgot where she bought it, and she couldn’t just order another one.
Before the internet, you’d sort of just sit on a park bench and hum a little ditty to yourself that you overheard while in line at Block Buster.
Before the internet, when you visited your grandmother at Christmas, you had to fill her in on everything that had happened during the last year when she asked, but could probably only truthfully recall about 10 percent and had no way of remembering the rest.
Before the internet, you’d spend your playdates creating a newspaper about the Olympics, featuring articles about gymnasts from countries you were pretty sure existed in real life because you’d overheard their names but couldn’t know for certain.
Before the internet, if you missed the newest episode of Veggie Tales on Friday night, oh well. Tough. You’d just cry and go to bed without a Silly Song from Larry.
Before the internet, the only ordering you did was off a menu.
Before the internet, when you broke up with someone, you could easily just assume they led a terrible life without you and leave it at that.
Before the internet, the only stocking you did was following your attractive older cousin around from a safe distance at every family function.
Before the internet, you almost always got lost on family road trips because your dad wanted to take the “Scenic Route” and there was no way of looking up what exactly that entailed.
Before the internet, you couldn’t really do much of anything. And it was lovely.
P.s. This post is an homage to this article from The New Yorker. And the photos are from a recent visit to my cousins’ in Nebraska.