100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul

Spoiler alert: I’m going to list the hundred things that make up Pamela Paul’s book, 100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet.

Essentially, Paul captures the objects, habits and ideas that have been lost in the internet age. I suspect Paul is roughly the same age as me because her references to popular culture and her cultural touchstones are familiar, and very similar to mine.

The book forces the reader to ponder the question – are we better off with the internet?

…because nothing about progress is ever straightforward, just as it brought us these things, it has taken things away. Some of these lost things were immediately evident: the photo albums we once painstakingly assembled using those sticky corners that inevitably stuck on crooked; the CD collection alphabetized by genre that represented who we were at our core… Other things we sensed more slowly, well into the aftermath of their disappearance: things that were gone or as good as gone, so far had they drifted in character from their pre-Internet selves.

So with that in mind, I’ve listed my thoughts on all of the things that have changed with the internet and with constant access to it.

01. Boredom – don’t miss at all.
02. The full stop (in text messages) – normally I’m annoyed by slack grammar but oddly this doesn’t bother me too much.
03. The know-it-all – don’t miss at all.
04. Getting lost – don’t miss at all.
05. Losing your ticket – don’t miss at all.
06. The meet-cute – not applicable for me (but yes, miss that for single friends).
07. Bad photos – yes! Always the funniest.
08. Filing – don’t miss at all.
09. Ex-boyfriends – so weirdly I don’t have any interest in looking up exes.
10. Being late (because there’s a way of filling in time) – no, still don’t like other people being late.

11. Benign neglect (as in, parents never knew where their kids were) – yes, it was better in the eighties.
12. The designated driver (because Uber) – not applicable because we still have plenty of nights out with designated drivers.
13. The phone call – hadn’t realised how much I missed chatting to friends on the phone until COVID, when I did it lots (but have returned to not much chatting).
14. Medical forms – don’t miss at all (although it seems there’s still a lot…)
15. Uninhibitedness – yes, cameras on phones has changed what we do.
16. The school library – my kids were lucky enough to go to schools with thriving libraries and ace librarians.
17. Flea market finds (because you can buy anything online) – miss this.
18. High school reunions – don’t miss at all (but never went to them anyway).
19. “They forgot my birthday” – don’t miss at all because birthdays aren’t a big deal for me (meaning I’m not getting upset if people forget).
20. The phone in the kitchen – miss this.

21. The family meal – we still eat dinner together more often than not.
22. Private humiliation – yes, cameras on phones has changed what we do.
23. The bookish boy – yes! (apparently boys that once would have been bookish are now gamers).
24. Window shopping – don’t miss at all.
25. Solitude – miss this.
26. Productivity (because emails and messaging is constant and distracting) – miss this.
27. Letters to the editor – miss this.
28. Losing yourself in a show (at the theatre) – miss this. People with Apple watches and constant alerts drive me crazy.
29. The Rolodex – don’t miss at all.
30. Relying on the doctor – don’t miss at all (I love Dr. Google and my GP knows it!).

31. Being first – never bothered me so don’t miss at all.
32. Being the only one (meaning, you can find your tribe online) – not relevant for me but so important for lots.
33. Birthday cards – I still write cards to close friends.
34. A good night’s sleep – hasn’t changed for me.
35. Knowing the (phone) number – given that I still remember the numbers of childhood friends, yeah, worries me that I now don’t know the numbers of my own children.
36. The paper – yes, miss the ritual of reading the weekend paper.
37. Unpopular opinions (the internet makes things go viral) – I’m divided on this one.
38. Solo travel – miss this.
39. Paperwork – I don’t accept this has gone, it’s just transformed.
40. Missed calls – don’t miss at all.

41. The dictionary – yes, I miss this and still use my dictionary.
42. Patience – yes, I miss having to wait (excitedly) for something.
43. Ignoring people – ha ha, yes, miss this!
44. Dittos (school work sheets in Australia) – don’t miss at all.
45. Seniority – white men being the ‘most senior’? Don’t miss this at all.
46. Looking out the window (on a train/ plane/ bus) – I still do this but perhaps not as much as I once did.
47. TV guide – don’t miss at all.
48. Civility (in letter writing) – miss this.
49. Receptionists – we still have a receptionist where I work and she is vital to our organisation.
50. Private observances – no opinion on this one.

51. Leaving a message – don’t miss at all.
52. Toys and games – I really miss boardgames (still have lots but hard to get others enthused).
53. Maps – yes, I miss maps.
54. Empathy (meaning we don’t really listen anymore) – miss this.
55. Handwritten letters – yes, I really miss letter-writing.
56. Old tech – mostly about the French Minitel so no, don’t miss.
57. Being in the moment – miss this.
58. Spelling – I’ve always been relatively poor at spelling so, I don’t hate spell-checkers.
59. Record albums – still have them, still buy them.
60. Wondering about the weather – don’t miss at all.

61. Bedtime reading – hasn’t changed for me.
62. The emergency breakthrough – this is a phone technology that I don’t think ever existed in Australia (where the operator interrupts a call).
63. Your attention span – miss this.
64. Sleepaway camp – never a thing in Australia but wished it was.
65. RSVPs – yes, I miss this courtesy.
66. Textbooks – yes, I miss hard copies of things that I have study.
67. Vacation (time when you are not connected) – yes, I really miss this.
68. The Filofax – still use a paper diary.
69. Eye contact – indifferent about this.
70. Working independently (this is about Google Docs) – not relevant for me.

71. Magazines – yes, I really miss flicking through magazines (only happens at the hairdresser now!).
72. Asking politely (because we ‘demand’ Alexa do something – not relevant, I don’t use voice-command tech.
73. Airplane encounters – indifferent about this.
74. Cheque books – don’t miss at all because cheques were a pain in the arse.
75. Missing out – nah, FOMO not a thing for me.
76. Penmanship – miss this.
77. “Excuse me” (in context of people being absorbed in their phone) – indifferent.
78. Christmas letters – never did them in a formal way.
79. Figuring out who that actor is – don’t miss at all.
80. Passing notes – oh yes, I miss the illicit note-passing in class.

81. Sick days (because you’re still ‘connected’) – not applicable for me because my workplace respects the sick day.
82. Secrets (as in our past) – well, nothing to hide, so…
83. Card catalogues – miss the wooden cases but don’t miss having to search them.
84. The college lecture – yes, I miss this (noticeably as a mature-age-student).
85. Memory (meaning you never have to strain it) – don’t miss at all.
86. Cinemas – no change for me because I still go to the cinema often.
87. Losing the instruction manual – don’t miss at all.
88. The blind date – I’ve never been on a blind date!
89. The encyclopedia – don’t miss at all (although feel a little nostalgic about them).
90. The new kid (meaning you get to have a ‘fresh start’ if you want) – hasn’t really ever applied to me in a meaningful way.

91. The view (we have seen everything before we even arrive at our travel destination) – yes, hate this.
92. Scrabble tiles – miss this.
93. Humility – miss this.
94. Cliffsnotes – never used these.
95. A parent’s undivided attention – thankfully I didn’t have a mobile phone when my kids were little.
96. Touch-typing – I never learnt (it was an elective when I was in high school) and I regret not taking it.
97. Photo albums – no change because I still have them (and my kids look at them often).
98. Blocking things out – miss this.
99. Social cues – miss this.
100. Closure – miss this.

8 responses

  1. Pingback: 20 Books of Summer (except that it’s Winter) | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

  2. A lot of these strike me as not things lost, just less popular… I also miss the phone in the kitchen but if I wanted to, I could get a landline, you know? πŸ™‚ Love the list and your thoughts and agree with much of it!

  3. I miss letters too, though truth be told, (except for my father who was a great letter-writer) long before the internet people in my life would ring me ‘for a chat’ rather than write a letter in reply.

  4. I don’t think we lost all that with the internet. Some of the bad stuff even got worse, like the “know-it-all”. And bad photos? Don’t even get me started on the bad photos. They’re everywhere!!
    As with a lot of the others, I still do it and I see others, also younger people do it. Birthday cards? Of course, everyone likes birhtday (or Christmas cards). Granted, there are fewer than before but there are more people reaching out, so it’s a win-win.
    But yeah, penmenship, I miss people at least trying to spell properly, use proper grammar and write a cohesive sentence.
    I could go on and on, same as you, I would have to say something to every single one of these, so I might have to get a copy. Thanks.

  5. This is an interesting list. To me there are so many things on it that are still very much present. My kids are still pretty young and we definitely have libraries, board games, and boredom in our house! A lot of this seems more about personal choice than that these things have actually vanished.

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