Dial it up

Today’s younger generation have it much easier. Am I able to say that at the age of 26? Well I just did so get over it.  In the age of technology it is funny how far we have come from when I was a child: in some ways for the better but in equal measure, for the worse.  Pondering on this I have come up some things kids today will never experience. Or for that matter neither will we which also makes me sad. Here are my Top 5 Technology related struggles kids today will never experience. Sad times.

1) - Dial it up

Remember that ring up alien sound? Remember the excitement it brought? Remember using the internet before Google was everyone’s home page? AOL Search anyone? I dare you to try to explain to our younger generation the trials and tribulations of unplugging the house phone so you could have 30 minutes of fun on line (I used to frequent the Disney home page in those innocent days).  The thought that having some fun online meant having to give up any calls coming in through the house phone seems hilarious and pre-historic but it really wasn’t that long ago. No, Aunty Mary couldn’t give your mother a call when on the phone. For us, it was my mother calling my dad to collect her. God help us if we were on the internet when that call was supposed to come through.  For those of you that grew up in a house like me, your computer and phone line socket were a million miles apart which meant your Ethernet cable was about the size of 10 jump ropes and had to be untangled and carefully positioned along the wall so it didn’t cause anyone to trip as it zig-zag across the kitchen to the hallway. 

2) - Wait your Turn

So after getting passed the fact the time on the internet was so slow it would take 5 minutes to load a web page, forget about trying to load a video.  Forget the fact the time on the internet had to be carefully scheduled as to not affect the communications between the family on the home phone. You also had to contend with your siblings. That’s right. Your brother and sister needed their sweet internet time too. As I was lower on the food chain (second youngest) that meant I had to wait my go. God forbid your sister stays on the computer too long, as this would cause you to bring out the big guns. Tell your parents on them. 

If you thought waiting for the internet was bad, go back a couple of years and it was waiting for the Nintendo. My elder brother Richard was the biggest hog ever: he didn’t give a crap if his younger annoying brothers moaned and cried all day he wouldn’t give up the Nintendo for us to have a go. This usually resulted in myself or my brother causing sabotage. (Running up to the game and turning it off and running for our dear life) This would mean my dear older brother would have to start all over again because remember kids, there was no way of saving progress back in those days. Does anyone remember getting so far and it just freezing? That was always a killer.

Who remembers demo games for the Playstation? They were these glorious free Playstation demo disks you would get with a new game which had a playable level of up to 5 games on this disk. I would play the hell out of that one level again and again all night long and I was happy. 

3) - Clip Art & Bad Games

Clip art was the most fun you could have at the age of 10 on a computer. That’s right, you would load in that bad boy CD ROM and browse images. If they were any way provocative you would print it out and laugh hilariously with all your friends.  We were easily pleased back in the day.  The images were not moving, they were not a game. It was just art, simple art. Badly drawn in a lot of ways but just pictures.

If i wasn’t laughing at clip art, I was playing the weirdest games alive on the computer. Back in the day when we were rocking a Macintosh 95 the games were well ahead of their time. There was Red Necks, a video game dedicated to the band by the same name which was a kind of virtual reality which actually video embedded into the game (the first I had ever seen at the tender age of 7). The concept of the game was to go around this Western style village convincing the band to join your record label. It was the best.  If I could get a copy of this game I would.  If I wasn’t playing this game I was playing Mist. I still do not understand what that game wanted from me: you wandered around an abandoned island looking for something to do. It was weird and used to creep me out if I am being honest and sometimes I had to turn it off and go to the sitting room to just be around people for a while. Coincidentally this game has been redone and is released as an APP. The Rednecks game is not. I am waiting.  

4) - Renting a Video

These days, kids have their own Netflix account.  Who remembers the excitement of renting a video? I mean a video, not a video file on your iPad or iPhone, I mean an actual VHS video, from a video store. The sheer excitement I would experience when my mam or dad would say they were going to the video store to rent a movie.  My parents were extremely fair, they would allow us to rent one that we all want to see (Usually a Video myself and Shane my younger brother would want to watch) and also a video they wanted to rent. That didn’t matter: we would watch both. That’s right, we would all watch the show together. (Imagine that).  All videos stores had that strange smell didn’t they? Also, there was only ever one section of the store which housed the videos you wanted to watch and what seemed like the rest of this gigantic store was dedicated to movies you never heard of. These movies are probably those you now see in the back catalogue of Netflix.  After watching the movie, it would need to be returned within 48 hours or we would face a fine.  This usually meant my dad would drive up and I would run in to drop the videos off (It was always raining when dropping videos off). 

5) - Car Radio

Back in the day my parents had this horrible tendency to want to take us kids out for Sunday trips. How dare they?  Needless to say, we were ungrateful and wanted to be left along to play on the streets and watch TV all day like our friends. On these journeys the car radio would be in full blast and my mother was in charge of what we listened to ( she still is if we are in the car together).  This usually meant oldies and Irish (That’s right my English friends, this was a radio show that played traditional Irish music relentlessly and caused a lot of pain in my youthful ears.). I used to hate it. Of course there was no choice about it, there was only one car radio and of course, I, a child, one of the youngest children had no say what so ever. Looking back now I love it, I often wondered why I know all the words to the Wolfe Tones back catalogue or the entire Live at the point Christy Moore album. I have my parents to thank for that. I do thank them, as both albums currently reside on my iPhone. 

As we got older, Discman was all the range and we all had our own dedicated CD player. My first one was yellow and my second one was Gold (I was a tacky kid it appears). Even armed with your Discman on one of these long car journeys to a beach town, the batteries would die ever so quick (not the 8 hours you get these days). The car radio would have to do for the rest of the trip.  If you wanted to listen to a different artist or song, you would have to actually turn it off and change the disc. Skipping wasn’t so easy either. It was a risky game and often scratched your CDS to oblivion. Recently I went home to find a gigantic container with all my CD collection inside. There were hundreds and now destined to the charity shop. 

Kids today like I said, have it much easier. I wouldn’t trade my experiences as I grew up for anything. They taught me to share, be patient, to socialise with my family and friends and be grateful for what I have. It also taught me that if someone won’t give up their go on the Nintendo, to switch it off so no-one can have any fun.  

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