Yesterday was my birthday…not a significant historical marker to many – but an important day for me at least in the context of its necessity.
At 36 years old and living in an evolving electronic age I reflected upon what it has meant to be “social” for me over the course of my lifetime and how dramatically that has changed.
In 1975 and the years that immediately followed, my social world and interactions were completely dictated by parents whims and desires of who was around and where we went. I am certain I learned to use the telephone as a means of keeping in contact with others as I have become proficient at that in the many years since (except according to mom and dad who would both like me to use it more often to check in with them – “gawd I just need my space!”).
Computers were as foreign as aliens in our home at that point, cell phones were a mere gleam in the eye of some techy, and the internet was not even yet a dream to the average consumer. Mail was certainly not electronic – but my sister and I certainly looked forward to a letter or card in the mail from one of our Grandmothers around a holiday season or birthday.
One Christmas when my sister and I were pretty young, we received a Colecovision and we were now a part of the gaming universe – only that universe was small and none of were connected – except to the gaming console. Nevertheless, we were pumped…but not as pumped as my mom who would stay up late playing “Ladybug” or whatever the game du jour was.
We were exposed to computers like the Vic 20 and the hi-tec Commodore 64 at school where we learned exciting things like BASIC programming and saved our files first to cassette tapes and later to floppy discs. We got our first PC sometime later as a tool for my dad’s business but we still were only as connected as the person sitting next to us.
High School held much of the same – and like most teens of the era – social networking was going to the best party…organized not by a tweet to hundreds or thousands, but a meeting spot where car loads full of teens would physically meet and organize a destination…weird I know!
When I got to university in ’94 I was finally aware of the internet and actually got a Hotmail account that I still maintain and use. I had dial up internet at home and downloaded music like a fiend (but no one could call my roommates and I for weeks at a time).
I will never in my life forget the sound of dialing up…We were more connected to our greater world but not even connected to the neighbor if they wanted to phone – irony.
Things have obviously grown by leaps and bounds with the internet and the interconnectedness of people the world over. Social media is certainly growing and will certainly continue to connect more of us – where it goes next is beyond my wildest guess…but I will be there – CONNECTED!
Yesterday, I was blessed with hundreds of birthday wishes across many social media platforms that absolutely made my day wonderful. My wife and I had some great hang out time and I was lucky to receive some gifts I appreciated, but really didn’t need.
I was lucky enough to get together with friends and family on the weekend for some other celebrations that were also lots of fun.
All and all a great birthday!
The only thing missing, and the one thing I longed for was a step backwards – to a simpler time – a birthday card in the “snail mail” from my recently passed Grandma would have made my day.
Do you long for a simpler social world or do the benefits and the immediacy of today’s world make it better? What do you think?