I watch YouTube more frequently than I’d care to admit. And I’m not referring to the odd vine or movie trailer. I watch make-up tutorials from girls who are half my age with twice my bank balance. And while I could watch, bitter and twisted over the fact that these adolescents have mastered the perfect wing, whilst I stand inches from the mirror cotton bud at the ready each morning, I actually feel a little bit sorry for them, for they missed the absolute joys of teenaging in the early 2000’s.
Prior to hitting puberty and deciding that I was ready for womanhood, I lived a very sheltered existence, with my entire squad residing over a handful of assorted cul-de-sacs on a quiet residential estate. We would call on each other after school, asking mothers politely “can Laura come out to play?” and meeting the rest of the crew at a pre-arranged point to work on the structural integrity of our den, or perhaps play 40-40-In until dinnertime. This was until we discovered… MSN Messenger.
No longer did we need to leave the house to socialise, instead we IM’d, we harassed Smarter Child, we would engage in group chats with unknown boys and pretend to be on the cusp of signing our modelling contracts with 17 Management or whichever obscure brand we had decided upon that day. I would wait until my current crush would appear online and ensure that my ‘Now Playing’ wasn’t Busted or something equally lame and I would set myself to appear offline, then online, then offline, then online…. Until I could be sure he had noticed me. We would type away until Mother would attempt to make a call on the home phone and be blasted with the static from the dial up, at which point I would be ushered away from the desk in the corner of the dining room and swiftly up to my room.
It wasn’t until that boy at school called the home phone to talk to you that you knew shit was getting real. Mother would answer the phone, her eyes lighting up while she cooed back into the receiver “Oh hello Eddddd, I’ll just check whether she is available” or worse… Brother would get to it first, quickly informing Ed that I was on the toilet and may be some time. Prior to this moment answering the home phone was the most mundane of all the household activities, but then it became a race. Mother, Brother and I all scrambling to get to the telephone table only to be greeted by Auntie Valerie attempting to use up her free UK minutes after 7pm.
I recall the day Mother purchased our first mobile telephone, a Sony Ericsson GA626. It was to remain fully charged in the drawer until somebody had to leave the house, then they would have the privilege of using the family mobile. It was amazing, striding through town, family mobile in hand, I was unstoppable, the height of modern sophistication. Texting BT Cellnet for regular balance updates just to see that incoming text light up that green screen. Over the years the family mobile became my own, I would save my pocket money and get that £10 top-up voucher, forgoing sweets and that weeks Shout magazine to text the galdem “u k?”. Towards the end of the week it would dawn on me how frivolous I had been with my messaging and the pranking would commence, weighing up the timings to ensure the recipient would hear their phone but were not allowed the opportunity to pick up, meaning they would have no choice but to call me back.
These are but a few of my treasured adolescent memories. No, they didn’t get any ‘likes’ or ‘followers’. There wasn’t a filter in sight and nobody could afford the technological advances that would allow to record any of the above – THANK GOD.