Friday, November 9, 2018

Life Before The Internet


Given how we live today, sharing pictures of coffee on social media, it's hard to remember the fabric of life before the Internet. And yet that existed, for me and everyone else older than thirty.

I got my first e-mail address in 1996. Surprisingly compared to most people, I still use that address (although the company-name changed three times when the business was sold and sold). When did you first get e-mail?

The fact of this sea-change in personal and social experience occurred to me this morning, ironically while reading Facebook. An acquaintance made mention of one of the best television shows ever made ("Yes, Minister" and its sequel "Yes, Prime Minister"). "Yes, Minister" was a British political satire far smarter than anything American TV had the guts to produce. Its lead-actor was one of the most talented, acclaimed thespians ever to act on television, Nigel Hawthorne.

"Yes, Minister" was broadcast in the early Eighties. I watched it on the single television channel here that showed British comedies (where I was also introduced to "Monty Python's Flying Circus").

Nigel Hawthorne performed in dozens of movies, television shows and theatrical dramas. You've probably have seen him in small roles without realizing it. In 1994, Nigel starred as the lead in "The Madness of King George" for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

I was a big fan of "Yes, Minister" so when I heard Nigel was going to perform on the Broadway stage in 1990, I leapt at the chance to see him in person. He was amazing. He played author C.S. Lewis in the play "Shadowlands." (The play was later turned into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, both getting Oscar nominations.)

The story climaxes with the death of Nigel's character's true love. Raging with grief, Nigel howls to the Moon in agony. Being physically in the room as this legendary actor bawled with extreme emotion was moving beyond words. It was an experience I'll never forget.

Nigel won the Tony award for that performance, deserved recognition for exceptional achievement.

At the time -- 1990 -- there was no social media to write about my memorable experience. No blog-post, Facebook note or other record now exists to memorialize it. The only place it continues to exist is in my mind. That feels odd now.

If you drink a cup of coffee and don't post a picture, did it really happen?

22 comments:

  1. I just asked my friends a week ago, "If a style blogger wears an outfit but doesn't post it anywhere did it really exist?" We all laughed. I'm thinking of writing about it on my blog. Ha ha! The irony!

    I miss those golden olden days prior to the internet. Life felt more authentic when we weren't sharing it with loads of people we don't know or care about. What happened to society that we became so obsessed with over sharing and self promotion? It's all about me me me!

    The play you saw sounded great. I saw one play, Grey Gardens in NYC that will stay with me forever. It is the only time I've ever cried while watching a play or musical, it was so powerful and raw.

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. Live performance can reach us more directly and powerfully than any other.

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  2. I love this post, Ally. I say that to my friends all the time while we’re out for dinner or drinks. If we don’t post a photo, it’s like we were never there, and what a strange thought to have! I love that you memorialized your experience watching Nigel perform on the stage here, to keep it active an present in your memories and your mind’s eye. ❤️

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    1. Perhaps we're being trained for our absorption into The Great Digital Beehive Brain.

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  3. I first got email much later, in 1999 I think. And I'm still using the same address too. I sometimes find it hard to recall life before social media, although I am not a usual sharer of cups of coffee. What a wonderful experience meeting Nigel must have been for you, though. xxx

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  4. I still have my first email address, from about 1998, I think. I think that the ability to record moments better (I never used to have a camera on-hand in the pre-net days) is a plus, but the oversharing, and people's inability to be "in the moment" is a negative. So much validation sought from external sources!

    I love live theatre - we just saw a great play last weekend. Still thinking about it. Nothing will replace experiencing art first-hand (I hope).

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    1. I agree -- live performances are electric.

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  5. I bet he was amazing! I love "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" :)

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    1. It's so exciting to meet fellow fans!

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  6. I love British comedy ... it is still the best around.

    If you drink a cup of coffee and don't post a picture, did it really happen? ... That is a seriously thought provoking comment Ally!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Lynn. I've always had a philosophical bent.

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  7. "If you drink a cup of coffee and don't post a picture, did it really happen?" I think a lot of people ask this question!
    I was at a dinner last year and when our food arrived my friends all grabbed phones and cameras and photographed our food.
    I felt a bit odd as I sat chewing and actually enjoying the food! I try to be more mindful but it isn't easy.
    I'm sorry you couldn't record your experience on social media when you watched the live performance. But the great thing about blogging is that you can take a past experience and share it with your readers.

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    1. Yes. Thank you. That's exactly what I'm doing. Regarding your experience from last year, I believe it's important for us to stop and contemplate how we are living every so often. Just 'cause the rest of the herd is moving in one direction doesn't mean we should, too.

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    2. You've hit the nail on the head with that last comment Anthea!

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  8. I wonder if photos have replaced diaries as a place for memories. I'm quite sad I didn't keep up a diary. For instance, my year in Indonesia, I only kept the diary for 2 months as I got behind.
    How wonderful you saw that amazing actor in person! I never watched Yes Minister but I would like to.

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    1. "Yes, Minister" is a show before your time but it's so good you'd be smart to check it out. And I'm sure you'll recognize Nigel from his many performances in a variety of other British entertainment.

      You're right about photos replacing diaries. The biggest reason is cost. With film, photography was expensive; with digital, it's virtually free. So now taking a picture is more available to ordinary people and it has become the primary way to record events.

      I saw a cartoon a few years ago. A mother was trying to explain to her daughter what a diary was. She said it's kind of like a blog but not online so nobody else reads it. The daughter looked confused and said, "But if nobody else reads it, what's the point?" Ha!

      One of my fondest mementos of my youth is a diary my mother kept of our camping trips. She wrote down the details of every day. E.g., "This morning Little Ralph woke up in a pissy moood..."

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  9. Very interesting article, It's really great that you are using your first email address even now, my first email address was from Yahoo but I'm not using that now. It's really wonderful that you saw your favorite actor in person. I can imagine the happiness of that moment.

    Have a happy Monday <3
    Kisses :)
    http://www.rakhshanda-chamberofbeauty.com/

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  10. Well said and so true, I do not know that series but it sounds particularly engaging. Socia media is getting a legitimately bad reputation, but it does enable us to share our experiences. In that way, it is pretty wonderful.
    Ah, but what a mixed bag!
    ❤️❤️❤️
    Elle
    https://theellediaries.com/

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  11. I lost my first email address, bummer! But yes I do remember the times before the net...and I am happy about it! Kisses

    Fashion and Cookies - fashion and beauty blog

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  12. Tis true- I am old enough to remember a time without the internet! Haha! I don't have my first email address anymore, but I definitely remember AOL and chat rooms and all the brand-new-world craziness getting the internet brought!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  13. I had an AOL email address when I got my first email, I think it was around 1999. I have since changed it several times over, somehow the person I was when I was 18 is not the person I am at 37. Funny how that works, lol!

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    1. Beth, you're now twice the person you were then. :-)

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