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Thread: Was life better before the internet?

  1. #1
    Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid Teenwolf's Avatar
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    Was life better before the internet?

    I'm not sure if this thread is hot button topic, but anyway.

    I asked my 12 year old daughter today if she could imagine life before the internet, and we had a good chat about it.

    Q: "What if you want to know something?"

    A: "well, you look up any related numbers in a giant phone book, then you go to a house or a filthy pay phone to call the person that knows the thing... or you go to the library and look it up. They had a sort of internet called "encyclopedias", 100's of super thick books on almost any topic..."

    She thought life sounded "annoying" and "time-consuming"... so I should have explained that those things were only annoying and time consuming by our current standards.

    What I did say was that before the internet, knowledge and information had value. You couldn't just type a question into google and bingo, there's the answer. So I kind of miss knowing things having value.

    That's the heart of it for me, I miss not knowing or having the ability to know everything all at once. Its stressful. You find more and more things that suck up all of your time, and none of it has value. I miss writing down tips and tricks and codes for video games. I mean, it's great being able to google any answer, but it weakens and softens us, as we indulge in our own interests and entertainment as a reward for our increased obligations. I miss being able to call someone without first sending them a text asking if I can call them.

    I'm just as hooked into all of this crap as most people my age. Spending way too much time on my phone, watching my fantasy boxscores update for hours through a night... I miss looking things up in a newspaper, cutting them out and saving them. I love some things, like I can access almost any music or movies or images, and that's great. But I think people used to have to deal with reality, and we're at a point where we choose and form our own reality.

    Oh, I remember why this was hot button... I asked my daughter "if we're living in the age of information, how could people be so stupid to elect Donald Trump?" She was pretty stumped as to how people are getting dumber as information becomes more accessible. I think it's happening around the world, right wing populists taking over based on immigrant fear mongering. Currently happening in Canada's upcoming election.

    Anyway, I think the world was much safer, more stable, generally a lot more functional society when we weren't shackled by the power and obligations of the current tech landscape. But it's hard to break down exact reasons, I'm just speculating based on my lived experience.

  2. #2
    Administrator revo's Avatar
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    Interesting question. Yes and no. Obviously, there are some things that are indispensable through the internet -- investing, banking, fantasy sports, GPS, dating sites (not me, of course), obviously countless others. But the internet has also ruined many an industry, and certainly has made people more angry, as they are now keyboard cowboys.

    I, too, like the old days when you had to read to know things, or watch things live, or actually have real live friends and be actually social.

    I'd add more but I want to watch the football game, so I'll read other responses.....

  3. #3
    All Star DMT's Avatar
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    This to me is like asking, was life better before automobiles, or the printing press, or penicillin.
    If DMT didn't exist we would have to invent it. There has to be a weirdest thing. Once we have the concept weird, there has to be a weirdest thing. And DMT is simply it.
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  4. #4
    Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid Teenwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMT View Post
    This to me is like asking, was life better before automobiles, or the printing press, or penicillin.
    I'm not asking if the internet is a significant advancement for humanity, it's pretty clearly a huge step in changing the entire way we organize our lives as people. I'm asking if, as individuals, people are leading more fulfilling, more knowledgable, more well rounded lives, or if the opposite is happening.

    I would tend to think its increased anxiety and fear, and provided a safe place for people to hide from or attack what they fear, and the result is escalating reactionary and ill-informed responses. It explains the rapid increase in extremism around the world. Brazil was taken over by fascist dictator, who won by jailing the leading leftist candidate, all because he manipulated the major communication platform, WhatsApp, to spread fake news and micro-target voters using their online identities. Seems closer to 1984 than an age of information.

  5. #5
    Journeyman TranaGreg's Avatar
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    Good question; a few thoughts.

    I do think that there is a pretty extensive adjustment period going on, which we're in the middle of now. Society has this amazing new tool and we're trying to figure out how to integrate it into our social patterns ... and it's gonna take a few iterations to come up with a reasonable balance. For sure how we use this technology currently isn't going to be how it looks in a couple of decades.

    I also think that the idea that specialized knowledge has less value (because of its ubiquity) is a very positive step for humanity.

    And lastly I think that the fact that the west is electing authoritarian idiots is completely unrelated - the timing is purely coincidental.
    It certainly feels that way. But I'm distrustful of that feeling and am curious about evidence.
    Some people think he's playing chess when actually his aides are trying to stop him from eating the pieces.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teenwolf View Post
    I'm not sure if this thread is hot button topic, but anyway.

    I asked my 12 year old daughter today if she could imagine life before the internet, and we had a good chat about it.

    Q: "What if you want to know something?"

    A: "well, you look up any related numbers in a giant phone book, then you go to a house or a filthy pay phone to call the person that knows the thing... or you go to the library and look it up. They had a sort of internet called "encyclopedias", 100's of super thick books on almost any topic..."

    She thought life sounded "annoying" and "time-consuming"... so I should have explained that those things were only annoying and time consuming by our current standards.

    What I did say was that before the internet, knowledge and information had value. You couldn't just type a question into google and bingo, there's the answer. So I kind of miss knowing things having value.

    That's the heart of it for me, I miss not knowing or having the ability to know everything all at once. Its stressful. You find more and more things that suck up all of your time, and none of it has value. I miss writing down tips and tricks and codes for video games. I mean, it's great being able to google any answer, but it weakens and softens us, as we indulge in our own interests and entertainment as a reward for our increased obligations. I miss being able to call someone without first sending them a text asking if I can call them.

    I'm just as hooked into all of this crap as most people my age. Spending way too much time on my phone, watching my fantasy boxscores update for hours through a night... I miss looking things up in a newspaper, cutting them out and saving them. I love some things, like I can access almost any music or movies or images, and that's great. But I think people used to have to deal with reality, and we're at a point where we choose and form our own reality.

    Oh, I remember why this was hot button... I asked my daughter "if we're living in the age of information, how could people be so stupid to elect Donald Trump?" She was pretty stumped as to how people are getting dumber as information becomes more accessible. I think it's happening around the world, right wing populists taking over based on immigrant fear mongering. Currently happening in Canada's upcoming election.

    Anyway, I think the world was much safer, more stable, generally a lot more functional society when we weren't shackled by the power and obligations of the current tech landscape. But it's hard to break down exact reasons, I'm just speculating based on my lived experience.
    You are the New old.

    You are in good company. Our fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers were at one time the New old.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMT View Post
    This to me is like asking, was life better before automobiles, or the printing press, or penicillin.
    Agreed. And no it was not.

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