Voices
in
Japan

have your say

Are you old enough to remember a time when there were no cell phones, no email, no internet and no way to keep you connected to the world 24 hours a day? If so, do you sometimes think fondly back on that time?

35 Comments

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
Login to comment

Sometimes, yes. I remember people not seeming to be so self-entitled. Everybody was more carefree. At least, that's how I remember it.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Yes, absolutely. We had time to read and think more deeply about things. There were plenty of newspapers, radio and the nightly TV news had most of the news we needed.

Now, we get news we don't need and get spun up by the networks and the internet. Take a look at Youtube and see how much of the content being pushed to you is fake, childish and just plain stupid.

We didn't interact with as many people, so we didn't know what most people were thinking. We lived in a world where we didn't realize how many stupid people there were out there. The news had more stories of the accomplishments of humanity. Now we see the dregs of humanity packaged as news.

Libraries were cool back then. We knew how to write using a pen and paper. We used to write letters.

Then, the internet was invented so men could look at naked women and sex without the embarrassment of buying magazines. And here we are today, every fool has a phone, TikTok is king, InstaGram influencer is a career goal and we now know that we're surrounded by hundreds of millions of stupid people

Give me the good old days. Oh, I forgot that we didn't have little groups of people who met somewhere else, then went and voted down someone because they thought they were clever and cool.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Can’t ‘member it just yet.

Will check “AOL” and “MySpace” and get back to you later. -

(The “dial-up” here is very busy now. Will watch some videos on MTV and a new show “The Real World” while we wait.)

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

It was a lot better, especially the internet with “asocial media” and the “ instant “ unresearched press is troublesome. The fame, biased “ news” and “ influencers “ are dangerous. In general it made people less creative, lazy and less active.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

People moved. If you needed directions to get somewhere or If you wanted information, you were pretty much forced to talk to other people or actually had to move to get to a library or to a store to buy a map. TV only had about 5 channels so once you were bored with watching what was on, you actually moved around and went and did something else. A lot of times you looked for others to do them with hence more interactive activities like playing board games, going to a friend's house or calling someone.

If you wanted a picture taken of all of you in a group, you asked someone to take your picture. You had relatively more balanced news with better articulated reporting which were often double checked by editors with some scruples and decency. You wanted to see a beautiful sunset, you didn't look on Instagram, you actually drove to the beach. If you wanted to see a band perform or see what they even looked like, you actually had to go out and see them in a concert.

People needed communication skills, other than typing short inane comments online, like making eye-contact, responding with a little courtesy or intelligence otherwise you looked like a buffoon. Personality went a long way.

People actually had to move around to experience things, have fun and to get things done. This might explain our current obesity problem.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Yes, and older to remember the time of no electronic calculators and wooden slide rules. Daily visits to the library every day going home from school. The place to find my answers to my questions. Making our own amusements. Valve radios and record players, B&W TV. Rebuilding after the massive destruction of the war. Food rations. People wrote letters and postcards, birthday cards and all the rest. Pirate radio for music. Listen to on my tiny crystal radio. Outside toilets.

Would I like to turn the clock back? Hell no!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Yes, and no, in that order.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Keeping in touch with family back home was a nightmare;

Letters took up to a week to arrive, another week for a reply. There was the telephone for urgent stuff, but international calls cost an arm and a leg and were a major outlay.

Trips to the library to find info related to work could take half a day, now I can ask Mr Google.

From taking a photo to getting the film developed and seeing you were out of focus or had chopped someone’s head off could take days or even weeks. Sending someone a photo involved extra costs for printing.

No way I would want to turn the clock back.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Last year I had an operation using a sophisticated robot machine. No slashing me wide open. Tiny holes. No blood transfusion need. Less chance of infections. Shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery. Didn't even have that dream in my youth.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

There's no denying that recent technological advances have made our lives easier and in some ways better, but I fondly remember having (mostly) good social interactions with real people. If I could time-travel back to ~1972, I would definitely go and stay there.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I certainly do.

I remember in when I left high school to go to college I had the dorm phone only. My girlfriend at that time and I kept in touch by sending letters to each other. It was a lot of fun/kind of exciting checking that mailbox every day for a letter from her. Once the communication was received the level of appreciation was huge.

After that I lived in SE Asia and India for a spell. All communication was done by mail (to my folks, etc.). I remember in India on the few occasions when I called my folks in the U.S. (landline of course) I had to actually book the call 1 or 2 days in advance and show up at the precise time or lose the "window" of phone time.

I am in engineering/science now and in spite of the fact that technology makes my work much easier (or even possible) I still really long for those days.

Technology has so many advantages but on the flip side I believe we have lost alot as a species.

(I still have those old letters)

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Yes, I kept in touch by landline phone calls and letters.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Of course, we remember those FAX machines, ticket tape ones?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yes, I remember it, but no to thinking fondly of it.

I live in the countryside, which would be cut off and dull without the internet, and do freelance translation, which was possible pre-email but meant faxes and sending floppy discs in the post. Reading blurry Japanese off a fax is a nightmare! What we have now is a huge improvement. I buy most things online, mostly from second-hand sites like Yahoo Auctions and Mercari, and this is way better than shopping in inaka. We built our home and again, being limited to researching out of books would have meant getting what the builders gave us. I think we would have paid more and got less.

I got married before messaging and social media were big, and I can see a big negative side there. Have your relationship potentially out in the open and having to judge your partner's mood from little messages, some which may just be emojis, sounds needy and stressful.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Yes, and I loved the idea of being away in a place where only the people who I wanted to contact me could actually do it. I leave the job at five on Friday and there's no correspondence until I walk in Monday morning. If you call my house, a relative answers and says I am out and doesn't know when I'll be back. I would go back to those days of no internet or smartphones, paper paychecks, regular TV, telegrams and love letters in a heartbeat.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

When I first moved to Tokyo the Independent newspaper had a Tokyo number you could call to get all of the news from the UK.

Many a Saturday night/early Sunday morning was spent calling it to check out the football results.

Also I remember travelling in S.E.Asia and having to reserve a phone booth in a travel agents to call overseas.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I would go back to those days of no internet or smartphones, paper paychecks, regular TV, telegrams and love letters in a heartbeat.

Just quit paying your bills for a few months and you will be back to no internet or smartphones! I recall visiting Acapulco in Mexico in 1991 with my friend and we wanted to call our parents and you literally lined up in front of the desk of a guy sitting at a phone and waited your turn to make the call after paying.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yes I do and there were benefits and disadvantages. Modern medicine is a distinct plus, as to modern media and the internet, as I am of an older generation I do not have the need to be “connected” 24/7 so I have the off button.

The media has become seriously dumbed down and fragmented leading to people inhabiting their own echo chambers constantly reinforcing their own biases, ultimately not good for society at large.

Would I go back? The answer has to be yes and no. I certainly don’t miss waking up to ice on the inside of the windows of a morning!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Used to be something called an "aerogram," which was a thin sheet of paper with writing space on one side and sending information on the other. Google it, youngsters. That's how I communicated when I first came to Asia, with gaps so long they wondered if I was dead.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

We all managed in those days, sometimes more efficiently.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I miss the ability to be lost, alone and learning.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm old enough to have gotten entirely lost in Japan, with no phone that had maps or translations services or anything.

It was a right of passage when I first arrived!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My family was too poor to own a phone. My father did his best to support his family. So yes, I remember seeing my first phone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't have a cellphone as I know I'd become addicted to it. Once I leave home, I'm offline. On the train, I've noticed, there are two types of people: those entranced by their devices and those snoring. I read a book.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Internet connected smart phones came to life about 20 years ago, so anyone over 30 should remember premobile life. However, in that short amount of time, that little device has changed our world more than any other invention in history - even the television.

I've been shocked, awed, disgusted, and positively transformed by this thing. The smart phone is like the Borg from Star Trek - everyone is assimilated, and resistance is futile. The smart phone is absolute reality for many young people (and old), and the world outside of that three inch screen has little meaning. Whatever you do outside of your smart phone - eat, sleep, work, consume - is to support your life inside of it. An experience is not real until it is posted on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.

As long as there are people old enough to remember life without it, there will be people who see it only as a powerful tool. Companies continue to improve the psychologically addictive appeal of apps and content, so after another 20 years, reality will be something quite different than it is today.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Agree with Isubari8

the single device to change our lives the most is the smartphone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not really. I do think fondly back to the time before Big Tech censorship, when the internet was a place of free exchange of information.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

To be honest, not really! I'm somebody who works in the tech industry and I love it!

I think the world came out of the dark ages. With the spread of information, religion died and superstitious ideas were debunked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I FONDLY remember life before digital. I remember the LIES we were told how first fax, then computers would allow us to work quicker & get this:

FREE UP OUR TIME TO ENJOY LIFE.......

Boy were we all suckers!! The exact opposite has happened & continues to get worse, much worse.

To be sure new tech has brought us many good things in medical fields etc, but I would say for every good thing there are WAY MORE negative things & I think the rot of society is there for us all to see, i think its going to start getting much worse over time, the positives will never be able to match the negative.

And when everything crashes real hard, the pain & suffering worldwide is going to be like NOTHING any of us can ever imagine........

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When 'thinking back', it is not 'communication' I remember but ENERGY, physical energy gushing out of every pore. Now, down to desperate fracking of the aged corpus for the energy to get even mildly outraged, I find that our so greatly expanded information access is finally beginning to punch a hole for some in the wall of propaganda which has constituted our 'world' for many generations. The liars are just as profligate but their lies have many more holes, and the increase in volume of available information has sharpened our senses to the voices of deceit and delusion. Or not. But, as the cat said to Dilbert when asked if D's coworkers were getting dumber, is the Human World getting worse? No, we're just getting to know it better...Thank you, Tim! Good luck with your NFT...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was born at a time where pagers still existed, with email, internet and mobile phones were only afforded by a select few. I grew up when wifi wasn't a thing yet and phones didn't have internet connectivity. Those were some good and simple times. people had more privacy and valued physical interactions more. I think when the smartphone and social media boom took off during the early 2010s is when the world began to become more toxic. But the thing here is this, you have the option not to stay connected and not chronicle your life. I made that choice nearly a decade ago and have been thankful for it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember in the late 80s getting news from home involved a trip to Kinokuniya in Shinjuku. TVs had bilingual broadcasting for some content, but listening to foreign music or comedy involved FEN.

Yes, we have evolved in some ways though only if we can step back from the sensory overload can we - as at any time in history - peer between the lines at the elusive truth.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ah yes, the good old days of buying phone cards from middle easterners around Shibuya station.

Heck, I was born before color TV. Only three channels. Harry Truman has just finished his term. All phone numbers were only 7 digits total. Our phone number was ELgin 8-9116. No air conditioning in cars.

When I was a teenager, hamburgers were 15¢ and cheeseburgers were 17¢. Cheeseburger, fries and a Coke was 40¢.

I used a slide rule in college.

I chiseled English essay on stone tablets. OK, that's an exaggeration.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes and no.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Laguna....did you use the blue aerograms or the white ones with the red and blue outline...haha

Would love to have this thread keep going.

@Peter - I did not chisel the English essay but I remember using a slide rule also. I learned to program using punch cards..... that kind of sucked.

When the semester was near the end and someone was behind I remember they would code in an "infinite loop" or non resolvable equation to shut down the computer and buy more time to finish their work....yeah...that stuff really happened. Am I guilty? (depends on the statute of limitations)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites