My rant here was sparked off by an exchange of e-mails with a friend I have never met other than on the Interweb.
“The question I often ask is “Why do we NEED the Interweb?”. Centuries ago when I was a little lad, we didn’t even have a telephone in our house – in emergency, someone would have to walk several hundred yards down the road to a public phone-box.
“In those days, television wasn’t around, but we had enormous wireless-sets on which we could listen to the BBC’s Home and Light Programmes. We could tune in to European stations, too, but the listening was difficult due to atmospherics. The only foreign station we could really hear (and that would fade several times an hour) was Radio Luxembourg which had English programmes from 7 – 10 each evening back then and British commercials; there was a lot of pop-music on there, but several short drama slots.
“Very, very few folk had cars, so people walked to work or took the bus. That meant that few ever drove out into the countryside. My family went there on the bus, but we didn’t explore the lanes and villages.
“So was there anything which filled that great void which the Interweb now occupies? Yes – community spirit and neighbourliness. Those things seem to have disappeared since the advent of television, a motor-car owning society and the Interweb as each of us have snuggled down into our own narrow, individual worlds.
“All this, of course, may just be an old man reminiscing about a Golden Age which never really existed. I know I am victim of so many, many happy childhood memories. Yet, as I read the histories of the late 1940s and early 1950s in British working-class areas, I seem to have the atmosphere of which I have just written about right.”