I ate lunch with my grandmother today. This doesn’t happen as often as you’d think it would, given that she lives two houses down from me, and walking to her house from mine isn’t exactly physically exhausting. It’s two houses down, and the houses aren’t far apart.
I didn’t have to entertain her in any way, which was good because my life hasn’t been all that exciting. She regaled me with stories about her life, some of which I already knew because she had told me before, but others I hadn’t heard yet. There were stories of her childhood, stories of her early adult life and raising my dad and uncle, tales of what happened on the days that I just got too distracted or busy to see her (which also happens far more often than it should).
At some point she told me that I’d never know what it was like growing up when she did. She grew up during the Great Depression. Every time I think the current economy is bad, I think about the Great Depression and realize that my grandparents grew up during that time. It was real for them, not something they read out of a book. Sure, she was a kid, but she, like kids now, picked up on what was going on. She and her siblings rode with her dad in a wagon with two horses to a field to work in it, and that’s how they got their food. This was life back then.
And then she told me that her parents and grandparents told her the same thing when she was young. That’s good to know; every generation realizes that the generations after will never know the pains of growing up in the past. So what am I supposed to tell kids of the future? In that crotchety old voice, I’ll tell them, Why, when I was your age:
Pluto was a planet.
You couldn’t turn to the Internet for an answer. You actually had to go to a book and look it up.
Facebook didn’t exist. If we wanted to stalk someone we had to do it by following them around and risk looking like a creep.
We played outside and LIKED it. We got in the dirt, we ran, we sweated. We exercised.
We talked to people on the telephone if we wanted to contact them. None of this Facebook or texting business. No, we actually dialed a number and waited for them to answer and listened to their voice.
We read paper books, listened to physical CDs and cassettes, and watched VHS tapes and DVDs.
Kids didn’t get their own landline, much less a cell phone, much less a freaking smartphone. What’s up with that?
We checked in with our parents, not on Foursquare.
There were only 150 Pokemon. You could name all of them in the Pokerap, and catching them all was actually feasible.
We knew what tape players, floppy disks, VCRs, and Polaroid cameras are.
Finally, we remembered the age of being able to write and record things on paper, occasionally in cursive. Who does that anymore?