Being a 90’s dude was pretty cool. Fuzzy CRT TV, pastel colours everywhere, floppy discs and even floppier haircuts that looked like curtains were all the rage.
And no internet!
It’s pretty hard to imagine now, especially for folk born after say 1996 (the year I left school) but I spent my first 20 or so years in a world without internet. Indeed as I approach my 40th year on the planet next year it will be a case of half my life without it and half with it and it’s even hard for someone like me to imagine a world without being connected to anything and everything. When my internet goes down I am guilty of almost having a panic attack and the feeling of isolation is pretty harsh.
But I did ok without the internet before, and it was great so why the dependency?
I was born in the grand and groovy disco-tastic year of 1977 so my first few years that I can remember were the 1980’s and my teenage years were the 90’s. My childhood was amazing! It was all He-Man and sunny days in the garden playing with Star Wars figures, Saturday nights in watching the A-Team with my granddad and cutting about woods and fields looking and discarded nudey books .
That was primary school level though and not to cast aspersions on the IQ’s of the very young people of this fine world but most children are thoroughly entertained at simply poking dogshit with a stick. So what about the later years?
As great as the 90’s were, a small village on the west coast of Scotland wasn’t exactly the cultural hub of the planet. Yeah we were in to stuff like grunge and cheesy dance music (the early 90’s stuff was great) but it wasn’t an aware state.
As far as I can remember my spare time in the 90’s was taken up with two things (aside from school during the day) and they were watching films and playing video games.
Indeed, video games had always been a bit part of pastime in my house, mainly due to having an older brother who was into computers and a Dad who worked for IBM. We had a ZX Spectrum and Amstrad 6128 in the 80’s then an Amiga in 1990 and then the consoles came in 1991. Copious amounts of SNES playing took up the majority of my time as well as a Megadrive later on.
Then there were the films. My room had quite a large selection of VHS tapes and I also had a box jammed full of films that I had recorded off the telly. I would often record a film on them then I’d tape something else like a TV show episode on to the end to save on tape space. Watching those old tapes after a while was like a gem mine as you could never remember what was taped on the end and so often got a really nice surprise.
I don’t want to delve too much into ‘days of yore’ stuff with regards to my own life but in 1986 my family moved from a village on the river Clyde called Inverkip to a small place buried deep in the Inverclyde countryside called Kilmacolm. I had switched to a private school (much to my anger) and being dragged away from my home and my friends wasn’t a pleasant experience. This was further exasperated by the fact that in my area there were pretty much no kids of my age…at least none that went to my posh school that wanted to play with me. For about 4 years I was pretty much on my own in my spare time and so I immersed myself in computer games, films and TV shows.
Eventually the private school life just didn’t work for me and I switched to another ‘normal’ school which I have to admit, I loved! Lifelong pals were made (who I still meet up with today) but they lived three villages away and so opportunity to hang out outside of school hours was extremely limited. This was in 1991 where the internet was still pretty much unheard of and so the games, films and TV pass times were still the bulk of entertainment and remained so for a few years after.
It was around 1995 when our family got internet in the house and for about 2 years I largely ignored it, mostly due to the fact that I didn’t quite understand it. It was only when I started getting into bands in around 1997 that I tried it out to search for guitar tablature. It was 1999 before I got my first personal PC in my bedroom which was, like most things, a hand me down from my older brother. Programs like MSN Messenger, ICQ and of course Napster really kicked off the online thing for me.
I even remember downloading my first scuddy porno film (also on Napster I think) which was the Pamela Anderson sex tape (the first one) and having to hilariously leave the computer on all night for it to download. The sounds of the computer fan kept me up most of the night, as did the supposed danger of the whole thing. Good times!
After that the internet was used for all sorts of things and I even had a stint as a website designer. Back then slapping a bit of HTML code with a few pictures was easy beans and really all that was required of a website in the late 90’s.
The urge to challenge myself to live without internet for a bit is quite a strong one but I keep putting it off because –
1. I do actually use it for business/paying bills and general communication.
2. Because it’d be an almost complete cut off.
In the 90’s I still lived with my family so it was sort of ok as people and cats were always coming and going and it was a relatively lively house. These days I live on my own (obviously) plus I mostly work from home and so the sense of isolation on a day to day basis would be completely overwhelming.
This of course is half the attraction to the challenge. What could be done instead of fannying around on Facebook or looking up that actor’s face?
Of course then there’s the big question: Would you return to it once your habitual non-internet lifestyle had settled in?
It’s something to consider as I just can’t shake the feeling that although the internet has connected people in a way that has been unheard of in history, the actual state of the world today tells a different story.
Knowledge isn’t power, it’s how you use and apply that knowledge that gives you power and as far as I can see it isn’t being used very well.