Wait, People Actually Had To Use These Things Before Cell Phones?

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to you that cell phones have revolutionized the way that we see the world. It’s altered our daily lives significantly. If you don’t think so, just look at how people lived before cell phones were in every pocket and purse in the world.

As a Millennial, it’s impossible for me to fathom how my parents and grandparents were able to survive without a cell phone. What kept them occupied? What did they do when they were bored? More importantly, how did they even survive? This article dives into things that people actually had to do before cell phones and it’s actually crazy.

Ask For Directions

Twitter / @JenAshleyWright

Remember when you would actually have to ask people, like real people, where to go if you were lost? Yeah, those were horrifying days.

Now, you can sit in your car and have a quick cry. Then, you can ask Siri where you need to go and she’ll have you on your way.

Check Email On Computer

Twitter / @EliLanger

If you didn’t just burst out laughing at this, I’m sorry, you don’t have a good sense of humor. Having to actually go onto a computer to check your email and not being connected to it 24/7 seems very counterproductive.

During the dial-up days, that even meant having to wait the 20 minutes for your internet to start up. Ew.

Manually Calculate Tips

Twitter / @RedDirt_Roots

What is mental math? I’ll tell you, it’s irrelevant. No one uses it anymore because we don’t have to. Machines calculate the tip for us, so we have no use for it.

I can’t imagine the stress of having to tip a server while trying to calculate 20% of your bill.


Twitter / @gm_fpinta

What is a taxi? I haven’t ridden in one of those in about five years. Thank god for apps like Uber and Lyft. I don’t want to have to carry cash around to pay the cab.

I want to know exactly how much my ride is going to be beforehand, and I want to have it already paid for by credit so that I don’t even need my wallet.

Play Board Games

Twitter / @HackbridgeRocks

Board games? More like bored-games. I’m always baffled that kids were able to keep themselves occupied as kids when there were no cell phones to creep on or video games to play.

Monopoly is great for the first 30 minutes that you play, and then it’s boring. Like, falling asleep mid-game boring.

Actually Use Phones

Twitter / @iGrowideas

Do you remember a phone that was solely used for being a phone? I don’t and I certainly don’t want to. The fact that people still have a landline phone for their house is still baffling to me.

If everyone in your family has a cell phone, there’s no need to have a home phone unless you like talking to telemarketers.

Play On Game Boys

Twitter / @EverlivingGames

Okay, not going to lie, I loved playing on a Game Boy. When you were a little kid, these things were legendary. The best part? No in-app purchases or banner advertisements.

Can you imagine going a full game without being bombarded by ads? Maybe things were better before we had cell phones.


Twitter / @lauraehall

Again, I just want to laugh out loud at the idea of someone using a payphone. Putting in a few quarters to have a few minutes worth of calling, and then an abrupt ending.

I feel like payphones are just around still because they have nothing to replace them with. Phone charging stations, perhaps?

Memorize Phone Numbers

Twitter / @melissakrahnke

So, actually using a pay phone is one thing, but memorizing someone’s phone number is another. I mean, how many people’s numbers do you have memorized? Be honest.

I would say that I know my own, and my moms and that’s it. Using a phone book seems like A LOT of energy.

Tied Up The Phone Line

Victor Drees/Getty Images

Only one person could be on the phone at the same time in your house. So, if your older sister was on the phone for five hours with her boyfriend, you were SOL on the phone situation.

It’s weird to think that you could never put someone on hold for a minute while you handle two calls at once.

Actually Go Outside

Twitter / @ChuckWendig

Wait, what? You mean people actually had to breathe in fresh air? You mean you didn’t have the opportunity to stay inside for 50 hours straight because of a video game?

I don’t know, going outside makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to have to deal with weather. That’s gross.

Sit Patiently

Twitter / @midstads

I don’t know about you, but all of these video games and cell phones etc have made my attention span nonexistent. Most young people can sit still for about four seconds before they need to focus on something else.

I can barely sit through a full movie anymore without needing to watch something different.

Actually Use Their Imagination

Twitter / @DussePauline

Why use your imagination when Google can do that for you? Actually thinking of something creative that’s an original idea to you seems like a lot of work.

I’d rather just Google search everything and have the thousands of websites tell me what I should think and how I should think it.

Make Eye Contact

Twitter / @HistoryToLearn

Yeah, right. You know that attention span thing that we just talked about? Well, that falls into the eye contact thing.

As if I would be able to make eye contact with people when I’m used to just making eye contact with a computer screen for my entire day. Yuck.

Use Cameras

Twitter / @bjsfwtdwdws

Unless you’re an actual photographer, you’re probably not using one of these. Why would you when you have a cell phone that has a camera that does everything you need?

Before cell phones, however, people actually used cameras. As a millennial, that makes me want to puke in my mouth a little bit.

CD Players And Walkmans

Twitter / @presentcorrect

Are you kidding me? People use to carry these things around when they wanted to listen to music? You’re telling me that you basically needed a purse just to carry around your walkman?

No thank you. How would I even be able to survive without my wireless headphones and iPhone? I wouldn’t.

Use Road Maps


What is this thing, and why would I ever want to use it? It’s nearly impossible to believe that people used road maps. Like, my parents used a road map. That’s insane.

I wouldn’t be able to get to the gas station without getting lost if that was the case today.

Feeling Alone

Photo Credit: EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

There’s some debate as to whether technology has made people feel more alone. I don’t think so. You’re always connected and can always talk to SOMEONE.

Before cell phones, that just wasn’t possible. If you were at a hotel, you couldn’t just call your mom whenever you wanted to and talk all night.

Unfiltered Pictures


This is one that hurts me. As if people actually had to take unfiltered pictures before cell phones came along.

Without a Valencia or Mayfair filter, I look like a potato. But, with those filters on, I look like I could be strutting down the New York Fashion Week runway.

Answering Machines

Photo Credit: SSPL/Getty Images

Remember when texting wasn’t a thing? Remember when you had to leave a message on your friend’s answering machine to ask them if they wanted to hang out?

Yeah, that was an archaic time that I don’t want to have to remember. Not that I even had to struggle through it for too long, but whatever.