Since the #shelterinplace guidelines rolled out, I’ve been reminiscing. As we watched a Netflix movie, on our 65″ flat screen TV, with a sound bar that provided a theater quality experience, my mind traveled back to 1990.
I pondered the question,
“What would life look like if a #shelterinplace order came to us in 1990?”
Technology was the reason I wandered there. Our resident YA and I were checking our phones while we watched the movie. Bruce was playing a game on his iPad. We stopped the movie often so he could give her a history lesson about the politics invovled in that era (’03-’04) She’s a highly educated Bahamian…
Bruce was in his element
Some personal context…
In 1990 we had a 3 1/2 yr old and a baby. We lived in Plesanton CA, in a small rental house with a fenced backyard. We had 2 cats, 2 old cars, a 19″ box TV, a VHS player, and for the first time-cable television-including the Disney channel. I’d survived a high risk pregnancy, several hospitalizations, and a 6 weeks bedrest.
It was life
We lived 40 minutes from my parents, who had a house full of teens, (drama galore). I had a sister an hour away with a 4 yr old son. My mom was fanatical about collecting us at their home for meals, celebrations or to simply hang. We had an abundance of free babysitting.
Bruce’s family was in Oregon–suspcious of telephones and too thrifty for computers. So we didn’t hear or see his family often. Flights were too expensive, our cars too unreliable for the 12+ hour drive, and his parents were allergic to California.
A little cultural context…
President George Bush Sr was in office, handily elected in the post-Regan era. We invaded Kuwait and sent cruise missles into Iraq that summer, with general approval from the populace. General “Stormin” Norman Schwarzkopf was beloved.
CNN premiered in 1980 (along with most cable TV), but MSNBC and FOX didn’t debut till 1996. Not every home subscribed to cable. It was expensive, so we relied on antennas, limiting us to local stations. Cable TV in 1990 was a luxury for us.
What was a laptop? Or a blogger? Or a cellphone? Or the internet? Or social media?
Laptops were enormous and clunky, mostly used in business. We didn’t own one until 1994 when Bruce ventured into consulting. Desktop computers more common but the expense was considerable. The internet took FOR-E-VER to use. Email was still new to home use. Cameras were cameras, and a cell phone was the size of a brick-you were rich if you owned one.
Phones were the sweet water of life. Preferably cordless, unless you were my grandma. She still had a rotary dial and a short cord, so she kept a stool handy Sort of a 60’s version of the olden days’ phone stations.
You could talk anywhere with a cordless phone. Front and back yards, any room in the house, even the bathroom…
A lot of life happened on phones. Meaningful and trivial conversations took place. Arguments accompanied with/without tears, secrets shared and spread, all on phones. And news both joyful and sad happened by telephone. Not much has changed and everything has changed.
Phone addictions existed in 1990 too. My mom was addicted. Minimally, she called daily. She killed time talking about anything and nothing. She did everything while on the phone. Dishes, laundry, weeding, hosing off patio furniture and yelling at her teens. It was a pipeline of drama. Phone plans had area code limits and mom’s allowed her to call after 5pm for free so she joined us for dinner-often. Every time we moved she had to renegotiate her plan. Call waiting was an additional feature-mom added it. Many a time I hung up while she put me on hold to answer a “quick” call.
Looking back, so much is different today.
I guarantee cable TV subscriptions would triple! It would require someone coming to the house so they’d have to be considered “essential”. Hmm, long delays???
We’d have to read print books (no E-readers) and only the ones we owned. Libraries and bookstores would be closed.
We’d have to watch VHS videos, DVD’s and streaming didn’t exist. And we’d listen to music on tape decks.
Blockbuster and Hollywood, video rental stores, would close, the upside? No fines because you failed to rewind.
We wouldn’t be able to hear or see church services, virtual anything didn’t exist.
Work from home would be more challenging. Think dial up modems, (I can hear you groan).
Food delivery limited to pizza or Chinese and you’d have to dial it in.
No grocery deliveries or online pickup services.
Limited video gaming.
No Amazon Prime (!!) Think of all that you order online today.
Texting? Non-existent, (I would know zero about my own kids).
And lastly, social media. It’s been a flow of hilarity, encouragement, connection and mis-information. I purged my feed of annoying posts this year,
Because of the tech age we live in, #shelterinplace isn’t the catastrophe it could be. We are well fed, active, mentally engaged, and connected to others meaningfully and safely. We can practice hobbies, work, exercise, catch up on reading, do projects, purchase anything (even cars) attend church, meetings and play dates. And we can do all of this without fear of catching or spreading the virus to others.
For those suffering the financial hardships or are afflicted with the virus, my prayers, sympathy and thoughts are yours. I know this is a scary time. There will be long term, consequences to #shelterinplace. I am merely incoveneienced (for now), others are struggling. I pray that it comes to an end sooner rather than later, and that God restores these months so that we can all go about life, once again without fear.
God bless all of you while you Shelter in Place