In honor of my 30th birthday, I thought I’d reminisce on my youth, since it has now officially gone and left the building.
What I like to read is teen fiction. That’s what I like to write about as well. I’m working on revisions on my YA (Young Adult) book and it dawned on me that I really didn’t have a place for social networking in my story. I just hadn’t really thought about it while I was writing the book. Why? Because as the story unfolded in my head, it was basically happening twelve-thirteen years ago, when I was in high school.
This brings me to what I want to blog about today: What socializing was like back in my day.
1) The Telephone
It all started with the telephone. Remember not having to type in the area code when you dialed? Anyway, at first, if we’re going as far back as grade eight, I used to mostly call my best friend (same best friend mentioned in my previous post). Most of the time, I’d call and it was busy. Sometimes it was busy for hours. Pick up the phone, call. Beep-beep-beep. Sh*t! Call again three minutes later. Busy again?! WTF! Finally, three hours later, it rings. “I’ve been calling all night! Now I have to go to bed ’cause it’s a school night. Bye.”
If I called (or she called me) and we got lucky, one of us answered right away. But then, I’d get the constant pick-ups from somewhere in your house. Predictably, my mom or dad needed to use the phone. Then, after four or five of those, I’d get, “Uh, M-E, I need the phone”.
Sometimes, one would get roped into long convos that one couldn’t break away from. Mostly, because in my world, admitting that you wanted to hang up to go do something else was like, the rudest thing ever. So, the solution to that went a little something like this: “Blah blah blah–oh, hang on a sec.” Pretend to cover the phone with a hand and yell, “What? Really, now? Fine.” Go back on the phone and act annoyed while you say, “My dad needs the phone. I gotta go.”
I’d often get screwed because my dad was waiting for some kind of business call. That could mean hours of just waiting around. All because we didn’t have call-waiting. Call-waiting is like, one of the most important inventions of the century. Before that, life was just one big-ass busy signal.
Again, when came time to deal with wanting to terminate a phone call, it still felt really rude. So, when call-waiting came, the scenario changed to: “Oh, hang on–I got a beep.” Go on the other line, listen to the dial tone for a couple seconds, then flip back over. “Yeah, it’s someone calling for my mom. Gotta go.” Sometimes, if your friend was ballsy, he or she would say, “I didn’t hear a beep.” Awkward…
2) The Modem/BBS era
Before the internet, my best friend (who apparently shall remain nameless) introduced me to the use of my dad’s modem. It started with my dad’s Windows 3.1 PC and a basic black screen with a blinking cursor. My computer would dial and my best friend’s computer would pick up. Then, we’d type to each other. It was like MSN, except that’s all you could do. Just type to each other.
You could also dial in to something called a BBS. It was the way to talk to local guys and then start telephone courtships that went nowhere. You’d spend hours dialing but the lines were always busy. Finally, you’d sign on. There might be a couple other people online as well, then, you play some stupid games or you just wait around for someone to message you.
Here’s what sucked: You spend three hours after school trying to sign in to a BBS and when you finally do, someone in your house picks up the phone and it totally kills your connection and hangs up. So you start flipping out, yelling at your sister, and you get back on, dialing for another three hours ’cause some other compulsive dialer stole your spot.
3) The Pager
I was one of those unbelievably cool fourteen-year-olds with a pager. It was green and the size of a small pack of cigarettes, I swear. I’d be out with my friends and I’d get a beep. Someone from my house was trying to get a hold of me. Probably my mom. Now what? I’m out with my friends; I can either walk all the way home to see what’s up, or I can bum a quarter from someone and walk to a pay phone. Either way, ANNOYING. Pagers were cool, in theory. In practice, they were just irritating disturbances into my “hanging out” time.
When the internet started coming around, you could hang out in the internet relay chats. Lots of chat rooms, lots of servers, and LOTS of pervs. You could never find your friends. You’d agree to find each other in the “teen chat” room, except there were 100 of them, and you were stuck on some different server and you got lagged, and people PINGed you all the time. I didn’t know what was going on. I gave a picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar as my pic when guys asked me for one. They’d say, “You look like Buffy” and I’d be like, “Really? Weird.” I didn’t have cable then, so I didn’t really watch Buffy. I just wasn’t about to put a picture of my round, fat-girl face with teased bangs and frizzy hair online.
5) My First Cell Phone
I had a cell phone near the end of high school. A Nokia 5190. It had the game Snake on it. I’m not sure what I did with it. I know I kept it in my bag during class. There was no such thing as texting and browsing then. It basically just had Snake and phone calls. Kinda boring, I guess.
That’s the evolution of my socializing. I don’t know how much different my high school life would’ve been with Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and all that crap. In my day, you had your diary, writing notes in class, and your yearbook at the end of the year. Otherwise, everything was done in person.
I’d love to hear (read) anyone’s thoughts/stories on their socializing.