Things We’ve Lost to the Internet

Last week I was on vacation in the beautiful village of Lu Bagnu, located in Sardinia, Italy. I had the chance to read more than usual and I found an interview to Pamela Paul, author of the book “100 Things We’ve lost to the Internet“.

The book presents the world before cyberspace. If you are a non digital native like me, you will know what she is talking about.

There are the small losses: an adolescence largely spared of documentation, meeting people by chance, and the genuine surprise from receiving a postcard. And there are larger repercussions too: weaker memories, the inability to entertain oneself without a wi-fi connection, and the utter demolition of privacy.

In the first pages of the book she remembers when we used to spend the days playing in the courtyard, when we had to ring the doorbell to ask if our friend was home and could come to play, when the TV was black and white and with very few channels.

Pamela admits being a bit nostalgic of those times because she misses a lot the feeling of being in one place without always being connected to the rest of the world.

Besides that the author lists a series of things that now have disappeared. Have a look at some.

The person who knows everything. Nowadays everyone has access to a huge amount of information and can claim being an expert (even though I would say that we can only claim being very well informed).

Getting lost in a city. With Google Maps we always know where we are. Before the Internet we used paper maps and it was easier to get lost (I have to say that I can easily get lost also with Google Map or my mobile GPS, especially when it says – take the first road North-West – sorry how would I know where North-West is, you are supposed to drive me through…).

Finding your soul mate by chance. Before the Internet, we might have met our soul mate by chance, on a beach, in a library, or in a club. Nowadays, if you are not on a dating app to meet new people, you friends may think you are strange.

Bad photos. We only have good photos today. We take three or four photos and then we choose the best one (that’s what I do, but my son takes more than three or four photos). Bad photos were fun, I remember one photo where I cut the head of a guard on a horse, the horse looked gorgeous though!

Postcards. Would you send postcards? Or do you post your own photos on a platform or on a chat? Wasn’t it beautiful opening your mail box, finding a postcard from a friend and thinking, look where they have been?

Weather forecasts. We are obsessed by the weather, aren’t we? We trust our app on weather forecasts more than opening the window and looking at the sky.

Dictionary. When we looked for a word in a dictionary we might have also read the meaning of some following words. Now, when we google for a word we only find the meaning of that word.

Newspapers. The same is for reading the news on paper. Our eyes may jump on other interesting articles next to the one we have just read. 

To conclude the interview, the journalist asked Pamela if she would give up to the Internet. And guess what, her answer was that no, she cannot renounce to the Internet.

I must say I read the article on the digital version of a newspaper, and I would find difficult living without the Internet.

What about you, what would you keep from the Internet, and what would you give up?

red telephone booth
Things We’ve Lost to the Internet – Photo by Mike B on

31 thoughts on “Things We’ve Lost to the Internet

  1. Loved reading this one. Brought back lot of memories of those non-internet days. Coming back to reality, i think we have moved to a stage where we cannot live without the internet. One should exploit the intenet to their advantage rather it ruling over them.

  2. The memories. Try explaining to a young person (anyone under 40) that they have lost so much. BTW I just bought a 1980 Oxford-American Dictionary simply because it predates the “modern” era and who doesn’t like the feel and smell of a real book.

  3. I miss the days when news was not so readily available. We needed to read a newspaper, listen to radio or watch television.
    We would later meet friends and family (face to face) to share over coffee.
    Today with the internet, most everyone gets all the news at the same time. Try and start up a chat today and you’ll likely hear, “stop, I already heard all about it”.

  4. I would keep finding soulmates by chance as well as postcards and letters. While I have never really experienced finding love accidentally, I happened to make friends a lot that way during my high school days; finding class together at first day, waiting for public transportation, or while ordering food. I think back then, people had no qualms striking friendly conversations out of the blue. Now we’re more wary of it

    I miss writing and receiving letters from old friends and the cherished one. Waiting for a reply can be very agonizing, but there is a certain pleasant and nostalgic in it, especially when the letter came. Chats and emails are instant that we occasionally don’t really appreciate them, sometimes we forget to reply to them

  5. Everything you write here is why I love living in the woods without internet. It forces me to meet people, to call and have conversations, and it allows my son to live without such drama in his life that social media and video game addictions can contribute to.

    1. Good choice living in the woods. I lived in a wood for about 20 years and each time I went home it was like going on vacation. I had the Internet though but no mobile connection, only landline!

  6. Love your story about the picture with the horse and the guard’s head cut off! What an interesting post and everything you list resonates with me. I think we’ve lost a lot of the browsing nature of life – books, videos (remember going to the video store before the weekend to check out what you wanted to rent?), maps. But I couldn’t live without the Internet either – I like working remotely and being able to connect with people like you through blogging that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

    1. It is true what you say, we wouldn’t able to connect through blogging. And yes, I do remember going to the video store to rent some videos for the weekend and also getting angry if the films I was looking for weren’t available!

  7. Wonderful post. I used to travel a bunch internationally. I made a point of not checking out the “must see” places on the internet when I would visit a new place. My travel method was to wander–and I made the most amazing discoveries entirely by accident. The internet seems to have made everything so very predictable.

    Like you, I grew up pre-internet. It seems that I recall my mind feeling less cluttered in those days. It was easy to relax and forget and daydream.

    I guess I’m being somewhat nostalgic myself.

    1. before the Internet is was easy also to get bored. But now neurologists say that being bored develops the creative side of the brain. So, let’s get bored for sometime during our days!

  8. Here are two items that in many ways go hand-in-hand. the encyclopedia and card catalogue. In both of these, people were able to not only gather the information that they searched for but also see other things while looking that would inspire their curiosity.

  9. I think this is a great topic! I don’t watch tv but use the internet way too much. It’s handy but I miss getting lost in my city the most. I think the key is to balance. For example I will stay off my internet later today to either take a nap or do a long yoga session. It’s definitely important to have hours of the day, unconnected:)

  10. I miss the “being in one place at a time.” I do love the fact that I can communicate with people all over the world instantly, but sometimes I just want to be in my room or going for a walk and be totally focused on the present. I have too much “fear of missing out.”

  11. No, I wouldn’t give up the internet. Sadly though I do have addictive phases when I know I’m on it far too much when it’s not necessary. So I’m trying to limit my time! Holidays are good for me too as it breaks the habit and I feel better for it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take too long before I’m fully immersed again!

  12. I doubt I could live without the Internet at this point in my life, but I could certainly live with less of it. I am a technoskeptic at heart. There is always an inherent Faustian bargain, to quote Neil Postman, when we adopt new technologies. They give us many things, but they inevitably amputate and obsolesce others simultaneously. The wheel and steam engine gave us easier transportation, but it also gave us roads that ravage landscapes and smog that pollutes the air.

  13. I can never keep up with technology, and that is a source of frustration. But the internet is a source of endless information and entertainment, and I certainly enjoy that! I also like the convenience of shopping online. I could do without disinformation, scammers, and cyber criminals, though. 🙂

  14. It’s such a strange paradox isn’t it? Technology has made us more interconnected than ever before – yet it seems we’re more disconnected from reality at the same time.

    I like to use the internet for research when I travel – to find an amazing restaurant in a hidden neighbourhood. Then I like to get lost in the back streets getting there.

    I would say that technology has both pluses and minus when it comes to travelling. I rarely eat badly as a result of modern technology. But you’re right that it can take away from that sense of discovery.

    Great post Cristiana 🙏

  15. Insightful article. I love the internet but getting too addicted is not good. Still, it has many advantages!

  16. A guy named Newton Minow called TV a vast wasteland. I’ll rip him off and call the internet “an infinite wasteland. Most of it anyway. An infinate source of reaction and distraction. Of course, I’m not sure if I could give up that bit that isn’t. Thanks!

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