I'm a child of the 80's. I'm proud of it. Yep, I wore the black Reeboks with the rolled up jeans. I sported the Ocean Pacific tee shirts and you might have even noticed about 30 friendship pins attached to those black Reeboks. The good old days!
The image you see above is from a digital citizenship presentation I created called "Growing Up Digital." I like to take my audience back to when we were kids. It's fun to reminisce, plus it's a great attention getter. It's also great lead-in when talking about social media with parents and students.
Too often we criticize students about their use of social media. "They are addicted to it!" "They're on it all the time!" are just a few of the complaints I hear. Yes, some of them are warranted, but I wonder if our parents would have said the same thing about some of the things we did when we were kids. I know my mother was always telling me to "not sit so close to the television, or it'll ruin your eyes." Well, I can still see fairly well, but bifocals are in my near future, but that's due to my age.
This whole social media blame game got me to thinking about what I had for "social media" as a child of the '80s. How did I converse with my friends? What did we do before all this technology?
Well, here is what I came up with for what social media was like when I was a teenager. I bet that you can identify with a few of them.
1. Handwritten Letters
I read somewhere that the average American receives only ONE handwritten letter each year. I know I haven't written a letter in cursive in years. Boy did I write a lot of them back when I was in school! Wasn't it awesome writing a love letter to your sweetie and getting one in return? I did get a nice handwritten note from my grandma each year on my birthday. She passed away this last year, so I'm going to miss reading that note and seeing that beautiful cursive writing. And I guess I better plan on writing a couple of more love letters to my wife instead of a simple text.
2. CB Radios
Remember the CB Radio craze? So fun! Think of all the TV shows that had characters using CB Radios. The Dukes of Hazzard, BJ and the Bear, The A-Team and of course the ever popular movie, Smokey and The Bandit. The clan I ran around with as a kid all had CB radios on our bikes. Man, we were ridin' in style! Until the day Bobby Markvicka ran into the back of my bike, rolled me and in doing so, smashed my CB radio to pieces. A sad day indeed! Seems like everyone had a CB radio, either in their vehicle or house and we each had our unique “handle!” It was like the internet chat rooms or texting of today!
3. Cassette Tapes
Did you ever find yourself inserting a blank Maxwell cassette tape into your boombox at the start of Casey Kasem's "America Top 40" hoping to create your own playlist of your favorite songs? You pushed in the record, play and pause buttons anticipating that your favorite song would be on next. Once you did manage to get your playlist created, you created mix tapes for your friends. We didn't know a thing about copyright, but we were so glad that we finally got the intro to ZZ Top's "Sleeping Bag!" We'd get together and listen to those silly tapes for hours. I miss some of those great conversations that were about absolutely nothing, but at the time meant everything in the world.
4. Talking on the Phone
Ever get in trouble for being on the phone too long? My mom would holler down the hallway to let me know it was time to end my conversation. If I didn't acknowledge her command, the ultimate embarrassment ensued as she would pick up another receiver and let me know ON THE PHONE as I chatted away with my friend. Not cool, Mom! We could spend hours on the phone talking about nothing! I won't even get into the prank calling that happened.
5. Playing Outside
The things we learned while playing outside. I learned a lot of life lessons playing outside, some a little before I should have. No Mom or Dad to rescue me. Me fighting my own battles, figuring things out. The street light at the end of our block was my cue to come home in the summer. When it came on, it was time to come home. Yep, I ended up not paying much attention to that light during a couple of crazy touch football and kickball games, and I had consequences when I got home. I didn't care, it was worth it. It concerns me today when I drive by a park and don't see a pickup game of basketball or football going on. Must be me getting old.
6. Going to the Mall
I never got into the hangin' out at the mall crowd. Some of my friends wanted me to go and hang out with them, but I guess it wasn't my style. Sure, I'd go to a movie, but the thought of socializing while walking around the mall wasn't very appealing to me. I still see groups of kids hanging out the mall today. I'm glad to see that this form of social media from youth has stood the test of time.
How could I not include one of my favorites? Remember when you were 16, had your own set of wheels and not a care in the world.....and you started to like girls? Our cruising spot was South Locust in Grand Island, Nebraska. It's about 2 miles long and was THE place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. Cruising speed was about 10-15 mph and it was better if one of your friends was driving so you could do the talking out the window. I don't know how many times one of us in the car would say "wanna pull over at the Village Inn and chat?" as we were cruising down South Locust. It was our way of getting acquainted with other teens in our area from all over central Nebraska. Great memories and conversations. I really wish that the students of today could experience this.