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Memories of life when it was in three dimensions

Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

Q. What was it like in olden days?

Much different. Piercings were limited to the ears. Only sailors had tattoos. When someone thanked you, you had to say “You’re welcome” instead of “No prob.” Soccer leagues had not been discovered yet. When you walked down the street, you couldn’t stare at your phone because it was permanently attached to the wall.

Q. Weird. How would you, like, tweet to the whole world if they, like, cast Ben Affleck as Batman – which is, like, so ridiculous – or tell everyone you’re, like, dealing with a bad breakup by chilling with an absolutely awesome caramel ribbon crunch frappuccino at #starbucks?

You’d have to call everyone up individually.

Q. What if it was something, like, awesomely huge, like the whole Miley Cyrus vibe?

For something of that magnitude, you would have had to go out on the street and share the news by talking to people.

Q. Hello? That’s so Stranger Danger. How did you Google stuff?

We had these things called books. You could get a series of books about everything, called encyclopedias. They were like Wikipedia, only heavier.

Q. What kinds of creatures roamed the Earth then?

On the edge of every village like Charlotte there would be vast herds of bovines. Before dawn, someone would gather liquid from them, and a man would deliver some to every house, where it would be given to children to build strong bones. These places were called dairies.

Q. I’m sorry, but that sounds absolutely dis-GUST-ing. How would you get around without a GPS app?

You would actually have to stop for a second and think about where you wanted to go and how you were going to get there. They would put up big signs by the road to help people. Some of those relics are still around.

Q. Yeah, I always, like, wondered what those things were for. How did you know what concerts were coming?

Late at night, people would make a giant print-out of all the news that had all kinds of lists, like stuff that was happening and ball scores and all the cars for sale and who’d died the previous day. Before you woke up, someone would toss a copy at your house. This was called a newspaper. It cost about a quarter.

Q. That is, like, so impossible. You’re just making that up. But tell me, aged ancestor, would you want to go back to those days again?

Not without you, darling. Not in a million years.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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