So I overheard two teenagers in a kombi yesterday that were blabbering about how they are addicted to whatsapp and Facebook. They were claiming that they could not survive without these social networking platforms. They were pitying people that grow up before these technological advancements…And it got me thinking, yes we had no whatsapp, Facebook or twitter, but life went on as normal.
Growing up in the 90s there were various means of communication and forms of entertainment. For example the telegram that was charged per word. It was the then ‘instant messaging”. All you had to do was, write your message, count your words not once, not twice but thrice, making sure the message was short and point and most importantly that you had enough money to send the telegram .Because, if you did not read it your message would sound like jargon. After that you would dress up real nice and smear Vaseline on your lips and go to the post office and send your message.
Then they were the famous love letters as well. Some of us used to be post girls and post boys. Our sisters, brothers and cousins bribed us with sweets, sherbets, biscuits and a whole lot of other nice stuff. All you had to do was to deliver a letter that had been “baptized” with a bottle of perfume and most importantly to learn how to shut up…
If you had a brother he would send you to his girlfriend’s house to let her know that he was waiting for her. Using you as a scape goat was better than him going there himself, because chances were that he would come out running like his pants were on fire and the girl’s father with a knobkerrie and all sorts of insults. If supposedly, the alleged girlfriends’ parents knew the boy’s parents, then he would be in trouble. The parents would briskly walk to the boy’s house and shout to their heart’s content and even threaten the parents and in some cases something like “ubophele inja yakho”. But to some extent, it’s a good thing Facebook was not there, because most of us would know the kind of lifestyle our parents led back then.
Then there were the auto books. Most parents hated these including my mother; you had to convert a notebook because they would never buy you the book. It was like our mini Facebook. Your friends would write their biographies, what they liked, and their crush and yes the most popular song at that moment. We would scribble the lyrics in our auto books and sing along to the song whenever it was played on the radio. Man….growing up was fun.
Then they was the Walkman and the Discman. If you did not have one you just felt out of place. People used to exchange cassettes and disc like crazy. If you happened to lose the cassette all hell would break loose and in some instances people would exchange a couple of blows.
Then, there were the landlines. Many of us are guilty of sky rocketing the telephone bill. They were tactics that were designed for even stealing a locked telephone. Forks were everyone’s best friend. If you were so unlucky and you received a phone call when it was a full house, you would strategically tell your friend that you would meet the next day at “ABC” a Seventh Adventists Book store in Bulawayo. Little did the old folks know that we were saying “A -Badala baseCeleni” meaning can’t talk now my folks are near the telephone…Some of us would ‘’steal the phone’’ so that we could phone in and talk to our favorite DJ on the radio and many a times, we would get caught because, we would reveal our identities.
Then there were the phone shops that just sprouted everywhere and became an instant overnight sensation. I hated the phone first ones with a passion, because they never was a guarantee that I would escape without the cashier with confiscating your shoes or hat so that you would bring the money you owed them.
My sister was always a victim of over phoning and the cashier having to confiscate her shoes. For some reason I think it was just a waste of time because she would never wear any fancy shoes to the phone shop. The phone shop era came along with the famous yellow man advert. The yellow was too bright so much that it hurt my eyes, but the advert was hilarious.
I had almost forgotten about pen pals. They were so trendy back in the day; I remember I had a pen pal in Scotland and I would wait for almost 6 weeks to get a letter from her from. The anxiety killed me, but it was always worth it when I received her letter …If you did not have a pen pal you could easily get one on the Edgars magazine with the Penny.
Then they were the secret codes, whereby you would add a phrase to every word and parents would look at us as if we had lost it and we belonged in an asylum. I think what bothered them the most is that, they could not make sense of what we were saying… Growing up without Facebook or whatsapp or twitter was a blessing because you never feared that your life could be shared with the whole world or that your mistakes and misfortunes could go viral in a split of a second…Besides families had decent conversations then because no one was on their phone typing away and everyone could spell back then…Yes spell properly not the gr8 but a proper great…
Care to share your thoughts with me….
I am Imelda…..Qhawekazi ( female warrior)