Family, Self

17 Struggles Kids Today Will Just Never Understand

Photo: WeHeartIt

I stayed the night in my childhood bedroom a few weeks ago and, as per family policy, was de-junking my closet when I came across a dangerously large CD tower.

Many of the hits from "Wu-Tang Forever," "Dookie," and "Nevermind," have been captured in my iTunes, but the mountain of slightly scratched disks reminded me that holy sh*t, everything has changed since I graduated high school in 1997.

From the standpoint of technology, particular computation and communication technology, the 18 intervening years have likely been the most aggressively progressive in the history of our species. And those damn robots have helped usher in fairly rapid social and cultural change.

I'm not going to go on a 2,000-word diatribe about how great the iPhone is (it is!) or how much ruder people seem to be (they do!), but I will point out 18 tech struggles that these kids — teens and young adults — today will never understand.

1. Having to actually look up facts in the Encyclopedia or Microsoft Britannica to prove your friend wrong.

It's almost impossible for an argument between friends to end in a hung jury thanks to everyone's favorite dotcom, instead of a secondhand set of encyclopedias that may or may not have an end date on the Vietnam War. And the less that's said about Dewey and his decimals the better.


2. Having to wait HOURS (and sometimes days) to see if the photos you took were flattering.

You used to have to bring rolls of film to a weird smelling place and a man would have to look at every single one for like a week before you could show them to people.


3. Having to resort to used, dirty magazines to get your porn fix.

Our porn options were limited to a friend with two VCRs, an older brother in the navy, and serendipitous smut mags found hastily abandoned in a hedge. Today's limitations are a filthy imagination and a door lock. 


4. Having to wait a week to get updates on your favorite sports teams.

Not sure if this really affects our readership, but you used to have to love fantasy sports to wait all week for the updates to show up in the mail. And if you were dating the commissioner of the league, forget going on vacation during the season. Again, this may be a downgrade.


5. Having to deal with never seeing your soulmate again if you forgot to ask for their phone number.

If we ever panicked and forgot to ask for a phone number of a new, "interesting" person, we'd never see that person again. If you're at a place, any place, there's a good chance you'll at least tangentially know someone else there on Facebook. It's a mixed blessing.


6. Having to stand in line to BUY music.

Music used to come out on a Tuesday. At a store. And we would wait in line at that store until the clock struck 12:01AM. Yes, like sneakerheads and Black Friday shoppers but with a little more dignity. 


7. Having to plan every Saturday night around watching SNL.

I recall going to more than one party as a teenager and someone popped on Saturday Night Live at 11:30, because otherwise, we would've completely missed it. And these were cool parties with beer, and girls with belly button piercings. Can you image having to be somewhere at a certain time because a thing you like is happening?


8. Having to avoid eye contact with the cashier when buying ointment.

Whether it was condoms or cream for an itchy butt, you used to have to go to a store to get embarrassing things. Now, you can order online and it comes in a box that doesn't scream, "This is definitely going in my butt!"


9. Having to call your crush's house phone and ask her dad if she's available.

Do you have any idea how nerve-wracking it is to ask someone out on a house phone? I don't either. But the idea of calling a gal and having to ask her dad to talk to her, and then worrying that her brother may be listening on the other line, would likely have killed me.


10. Having to hunt down your friend IN PERSON if he owed you money.

Once upon a time, you had to go to a bank or at least an ATM if you needed to collect from some mooch. Venmo and PayPal make it substantially easier to go Ri-Ri on your deadbeat friend. And forget about having to balance a checkbook. 


11. Having to commit to your plans, or stay stuck waiting for your friend in the rain if he's running late.

Plans were sacred, man. But now you can change them on the fly. If you said you were going to be somewhere, only being murdered real bad was reason to miss it. Speaking of, being able to tell someone via text that you're going to be late has probably done more to deter the murder rate than anything since the 10 Commandments. 


12. Having to do the whole awkward flirting thing ... in person.

We used to have to meet people in real life. Or be matched up by a friend. Or use an awesome video dating service like this. Or an arranged marriage. Look, you have online dating and it's pretty accessible, be thankful, OK? 


13. Having to use travel agents, not online reviews, for vacations.

I vaguely recall there being a storefront with posters of Bora Bora (the island so nice they named it twice) in a strip mall by the grocery store. Beyond that, I have no idea how people booked travel. You can't make it to the mailbox without tripping on a discount airline.


14. Having to anxiously wait to see if today was the day your mailman delivered the cereal box prize you sent in for.

Outside of receiving a box from Amazon, a summons for unpaid parking tickets or a wedding invitation from someone who hates trees, your lives aren't nearly as consumed by the whimsy of the US Postal Service as ours were. 


15. Having to stand in line to buy tickets, praying they weren't sold out by the time we got to the front.

Sure, even Brown Paper Tickets needs to wet its beak to keep the doors open, but there are a dozen good ways to get tickets for an event that don't involve being fleeced by a scalper, or as fleeced by a company that rhymes with Licket Faster.


16. Having to actually talk to people without some form of technology in front of our faces.

Between email, texting, SnapChat, Instagram, and the rest of the social media platforms, you can go have a pretty substantial relationship with someone without really ever talking to them Facetime to Facetime. Throw in Emojis and I'm not sure why we even need vocal cords.


17. Having to pay full price for EVERYTHING.

Given the number of discounted sites and email lists, you almost have to go out of your way to pay full price for anything. Also, we used to have to pay for long distance calls. In America. It was worse than the Great Depression. 


Yup, other than those 17 things, everything is exactly the same. Be glad not to have grown up in those dark, dark ages.