Texts Between Mom And Son Prove Kids Can't Grasp Pre-Internet Life

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 

It can be baffling that anyone was able to get an education before email

Everyone thinks from time to time, “Man, how did I get by without the internet?” knowing full well that those of us a certain age most definitely had a pretty fulfilling life without it. Trying to explain these things to our kids who’ve never grown up without Google, FaceTime, and high-speed dial-up is, well, futile but often hilarious, such as this next case.

Barbara Noble Sobel posted a conversation her friend had with her son in college and it’s impossible not both laugh and cry in the same second. “I have permission from the mom in the texts to repost this with her son’s name blacked out,” Sobel wrote. “One of the funniest things I’ve read in a while.”

In the text, her friend and her son’s conversation (over text, of course) started out innocently enough. “How did any of college work before email?” he asked. “Like what did you do? If a class were cancelled, or there was a mistake on the homework”. His mom gently explained you actually just went to class and if there was a problem, the teacher would leave a note on the door.

Well, that blew his young mind.

“What if it was at 8 am? You’d still have to wake up early and walk all the way in?” he said incredulously. His mom’s response: “That is correct.” But that’s not the funniest part. When her son pressed her on how she would possibly know “anything” like what jobs she had to do for a class or what ensembles she was in, she explained the teacher would simply post it on a community bulletin board. That’s when shit got real.

“I don’t even know what that is,” he responded. After explaining exactly what was entailed in the creation and hanging of a bulletin board he was still perplexed. “But how would you read that without walking all the way to the building.” Oh, sweet boy, you didn’t.

It’s pretty relatable, though. I was in an antique store with my teenager a few years back and we saw a dial-up phone. I told her I’d give her $10 if she could dial my number and she straight up could not do it. She could not conceptualize how getting a hold of someone meant circling the dialer allllll the way around and that if you messed up, you had to hang up and start all over. “Why would you ever even bother calling anyone if it took this long? Why wouldn’t you just text them?” she said. Bless.

After some quick instructions about how she’d have to drive all the way to the building (up hill, both ways), she explained that’s how she’d landed her first job — after reading an index card pinned to a bulletin board. You can imagine how that went down. “What if they wanted to link something for more details?” He said link something — adorable. Then, when talking about getting a job he said, “I can’t imagine having to interact with someone for it.” We kind of get where he’s coming from. But interacting with people is, ya know, a pretty standard life skill even in today’s world. Or… is it?

“The struggle is real in helping our kids understand how easy they have it now days,” Sobel concluded. So it is.

This article was originally published on