Now That I’m Fiftysomething

I was thinking about this persistent question the other day: what the hell did we do before the internet?

"I wear my sunglasses at night..."
“I wear my sunglasses at night…”

I put in St. Elmo’s Fire recently. I own the DVD as something of a tribute to the 1980s and the Brat Pack, and because the DVD was 99¢. It’s not very good.

I also own a box set of thirtysomething, and as I watch it, I am disappointed to see how poorly it aged. I think that sallowing is because the culture of the 1980s was, for lack of a better term, immature. The entertainment of the era all seems one-dimensional. It’s not just me, is it? Maybe it is just me, and I was caught in observance of the worst aspects of 1980s culture.

What did we do? There was no internet. There were no smart phones. There was no Netflix. Did we watch television? Did we play outside? Did we go to bars?

For my own part, I spent the middle part of the decade with a girlfriend with whom I split time between renting VHS movies and watching music videos. In fact, we looked forward to Friday “video night,” which consisted of surfing from MTV to VH1 to Night Flight to Night Tracks, all of which showed nothing but music videos. We mostly made fun of how terrible they were.

This isn’t some kind of sociological high five to today’s culture. I recognize today’s shallowness. At the same time, I feel like I can share more now with this web site than I ever could passing around my journal.


  1. This might be a lengthy response, but: I was growing up in the 1980s. A teenager from 84-89. I was immersed in the shallow, cheesy, slick, superficial, hyperactive, neon, hair-sprayed, doped-up culture of the time. Even though I probably should not have known better, I hated the 80s even as I was living it. I knew a better time would come, and it did (the Nineties). The movies that unfortunately represent the 80s best of all? Mannequin, from 1987, and Police Academy or any of its horrid sequels. Kids my age loved that shit. Anyway, to quit ranting and answer your question: We did stuff. We watched TV (Dallas, LA Law, Cos, Night Court, Cheers, Letterman). We watched music videos (MTV actually PLAYED them). We listened to music on audio cassettes (damn good music, too, far too much to name here). Our social media was our telephone. We watched the nightly news (and I think were better informed, as opposed to the partisan shouting matches of today). I dunno … it was all terribly superficial, but there was a lot of good stuff in the Eighties, too. I just hated most of it. (End of rant.)

  2. Not Corey Hart. M.F. George Michael! But, yeah, the 80s. I was four years old in 1980. I’d like to think that the stuff now viewed as iconic in the 80s was championed by teenagers. I look at what’s popular now (“pop”) and can’t imagine anyone my age giving it a second thought. But a 13-year-old? Sure, why not.

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