The Wide Angle: Lack of internet nearly killed us

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

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Now that I’m at the age of 50 and frighteningly close to the senior citizen’s discount at Perkins, I’ve begun taking stock of my life up and what I’ve discovered is — I’m still alive.

Sure, that seems awfully dramatic and pretty obvious, but as I look back over a storied life of hijinks, shenanigans and tomfoolery, there is some question as to whether or not I should be here at all.

I came upon this direct line of thinking after going through Facebook, pretending to look for an idea to write about. Low and behold, instead of killing time before going home, I actually found something to kick-start my thought process.

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Which is ironic, as I came from a period of time where I was encouraged to “Kickstart My Heart.”

It came in the form of a meme which is quoted thusly:

“Back in my day we rode our bikes without helmets and we turned out just fine. And you know what else? Back in my day we rode our bikes without helmets and we turned out just fine.”

There’s more truth to this meme than you might care to admit.

There was a time where I would become annoyed any time someone in the senior citizen bracket of life would try to let me know how much tougher they had it than we did and us youth had it too easy.

But there is some truth in this as well. Monday morning, as the slop of a March snow was turning to rain, I stared at a kid going to school and with my cup of coffee thought, “Put on a coat, for the love of …” before catching myself and thinking — “I hate being 50.”

To be fair, there was a certain survival twist to growing up when I did, which was mostly in the 80s, prior to growing into adulthood as a junior and senior in the 90s.

For all you kids out there, these were the dark ages of no cellphone and no internet. Believe it or not, you had to create your own fun and, I argue, required kids to think a little more outside of the box.

This outside of the box thinking, however, often came with certain risks. Oh, you know. The common risks associated with small town boredom — knocking on doors and running away, climbing trees that were way too tall for you, jumping bikes off of things that shouldn’t be jumped off.

Surfing on a buddy’s car while moving down Main Street, skiing out of the passenger door of a vehicle on snow-packed roads, letting a car pull you down the road while on a skateboard.

I’m guessing that those last three might have stopped you somewhat in your tracks, but yes, I was a part of all of those to some degree or another.

It was my car that my childhood friend climbed out on the roof and had me go down Main Street. It was also my car that this same friend skied while hanging on the door and I was the one that tried to Marty McFly it down Main Street.

I say try, because I only got so far before the skateboard took off on me and I was just some dumb kid being dragged by a car. I’m still here, so clearly we weren’t going very fast, but still, it proves my point that life without cellphones and the internet paid off in experience.

For instance, I never did that again. Life lessons people. Life lessons.

Maybe there’s something to be said for kids being left to their own devices during certain decades and maybe there’s something to be said for parents letting us learn these lessons.

We came home at night, so alls well that ends well, I guess.

Now, I don’t want you to think I wasn’t raised well. I was raised perfectly well. It was just a different time period. There was no checking up on your children, other than the demand you check in every so often and not ride your bike nine miles to Current Lake without telling them.

Yes, we did that too and learned another very important lesson: don’t ride nine miles to Current Lake as a kid.

I didn’t say they were overly complicated lessons.

Some might argue, however, that these are the times of childhood you remember the most — probably because we came home largely unscathed from a life of daring abandon. And hey, you know what — I have yet to break a bone, so there is something of a survival instinct as well.

My parting thought is this, however. If you are a kid, first off, why are you reading this? Are you seriously that bored? Secondly, call your friends, get together and turn the phones off and go out and live a life worth living. Disconnect and let yourself lay in a field and look at the stars, walk around town and just talk, or just sit and talk.

Thirdly, and this is most important: Do as I say, not as I do. Do not surf on a car, do not ski from a car and for the love of all things — don’t skateboard from behind a car. Just stay away from serious injury.

You know what, just forget you even read this and ask your mom and dad what kind of things they got up to when they were young.

You’re welcome fellow old person.