Having grown up in the ’80s and ’90s, I sometimes feel like a lumbering Civil War vet even though I’m just past 30. We had land lines, pagers, and we still had to go to the library to research things on microfilm. The notion that you could fire up your computer and get access to movies, music, news, and other people in the blink of an eye seemed as farfetched as it must have been to our parents in the ’60s. (Remember the blazing speed of AOL dialup?)
Though I now understand my Nana’s nostalgia for the “good old days” (hers for swing music, mine for early Pearl Jam), I am embracing all the cool new crap you can do that you couldn’t do before. So here’s a list of some of the more interesting things I’ve found to do online (and some off) that we couldn’t have imagined back in 1996.
1. Cloud Gaming. Don’t own a PS3 or any other cutting edge console? Thanks to Cloud Gaming services like Onlive you can use your high speed internet connection to play almost any video game the same way you’d stream a movie. For the love of God, how do they do this?
2. Retro Gaming. On the flip side of technology, you can get access to flash versions of almost every classic video game you can think of at Classic Game Arcade. We’re talking about everything from Pac-Man to Donkey Kong to Sonic and more. And it’s free!
3. Geocaching. Want to make a foray into the real world…kind of? Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt, where players use GPS enabled units to find clues and other objects and interact online. I tried imagining something like this in 1999 but the technology didn’t exist. Lots of fun, like hide-and-go-seek for adults!
4. Trampoline Centers. Okay, this is definitely an offline activity. Jump Sky High is a new company offering an experience in the spirit of Laser Tag and Arcades. They have about six locations throughout the country which consist of dozens of trampolines all interlocked. They also have Dodgeball and a foam pit. Definitely did not exist in 1996.
5. Design Your Own T-Shirt. I remember being thrilled by Pac-Man and Dukes of Hazards Iron Ons back in the 1980s. In the ’90s you could bring a t-shirt design to a printer and hope they’d stencil it onto a shirt or two. Nowadays, you can make your own t-shirt easier than setting up an email account. You can upload your own slogans or put your friend’s face on a t-shirt, which is really going to bring you closer together. You can find dozens of funny t-shirts online or make your own.
6. Second Life. I hesitate to recommend this, but it had to be said. You can immerse yourself in a complete virtual online interactive world and community. If you work hard, you can completely check out of physical reality. You may lose your mind, but it will be fun!
7. Failblog. Back in the ’90s, we had an economic surplus, but there was no way for us to instantly gain access to hundreds of hilarious photos and mistakes made by fellow humans. Somehow, since everything is so real and raw, it’s a lot better than America’s Funniest Home Videos. Failblog features real-life texting autocorrect mistakes, spills, falls, and weird flukes that will make you laugh out loud.
And there you have it, Seven ways to distract yourself in the modern age. I can’t wait for 20 years from now when all of this stuff seems antiquated.