I love digital technology. I love having all the information in the world at my fingertips. I love how social media enables me to connect with people all over the globe. I love the explosion of gorgeous drone videos on YouTube, through which I can get a bird’s eye view of every corner of the world, from Alaska to Tasmania. And I love the amazing remote work opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible (or at least so convenient) without Google Docs, Skype, and PayPal.
Nevertheless, I’m glad I was born and got to live part of my life in a period when the world seemed to spin more slowly.
A world where you had to learn to use encyclopedia and dictionary indexes if you wanted to obtain information.
A world where you could miss a call and you never knew who called because there was no digital display of the caller’s number.
A world where you would take a photo without immediately being able to view it on a digital screen. You’d have to go to have your vacation photos developed in a photographer’s shop, and there were always some surprises (for better or worse).
A world where you actually still got to receive handwritten letters with beautiful stamps – I do feel lucky to still be in touch with people with whom I started to correspond before email was a thing.
A world where, if you wanted to buy something, you’d either have to visit or call stores in your area, or browse through mail order catalogs (remember those?!)
A world where you couldn’t listen to whatever song you wanted, whenever, wherever on YouTube – if a song you loved was playing on the radio, you’d stop and listen, and maybe hurry to record it on a cassette.
Being Orthodox Jewish, I still get to experience this simpler, unhurried, not-so-distant-past world every week. From the time candles are lit on Friday afternoon and until Saturday night, we look up words in a physical dictionary, knock on a neighbor’s door rather than text, and have no way to tell the time if we happen to go out without a wristwatch.
This weekly digital detox is so healing that I honestly believe everyone needs periodic unplugging in their lives.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you miss the most from the pre-internet world?