Nope, just not the same.
As I watched the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy with my two daughters last night, my 16 year-old lamented the loss of the good old days. I’m sure you’re thinking, “I remember that movie, it wasn’t that long ago”, but the longer I watched, the more I agreed with my daughter. Oh to go back to a time when cell phones were only for people who were trying to look important and e-mail was still a phenomenon.
My oldest would’ve been five, her sister three, when this particular chick flick made its debut in 1998. I didn’t even get a “home” computer till ’99. Just like the movie, it had a dial up modem and my girls gleefully remembered the sound and the progression of the AOL characters on the screen as the computer was in it’s various stages of connecting.
You may recall the premise of the movie was based on the big bad conglomerate bookstore (Barnes & Noble?) running out the mom and pop shop by coming in with their discounts and fancy cafe coffee shop. Not only had the concept of wi-fi not yet been invented (a staple of all those bookstore cafes these days), cellular phones (which were hideously big and clunky) were anything but mobile (there wasn’t even one used in the movie).
The only way Joe and Catherine could communicate was via the internet when they were (gasp) at home! Picture e-mails written like real letters, “Dear Shopgirl…” (certainly longer than 140 characters) and instant messaging before it was taken over by teenagers (and their secret abbreviated language).
While online dating no longer has the tabu it once did, chat rooms are now kind of creepy and many e-mail exchanges are no longer so innocent (yes, I know Shopgirl and NY152 had significant others when they met in the chat room too). The internet itself could be compared to Pandora’s Box, given it’s effect has nearly as many negative consequences as positive. The difference in how computers are used and the absence of cell phones (and constant texting) was so obvious, my daughter said it was scary to think what changes might occur in technology during the next decade. She actually wished she was older “back then” so she could’ve enjoyed a society that wasn’t constantly on a computer or phone. Face-to-face interaction, now there’s a novel concept!
The other thing we both noticed was how cute (and expressive) Meg Ryan looked BEFORE Botox and plastic surgery, but that’s a whole different post!
See what Shopgirl and NY152’s IM exchange might look like today. Definitely humorous, but also a loss of innocence.