By Joe Capell
Everywhere you go anymore, you’ll find people staring down at their rectangles. They’ll be Facebooking or Pinteresting or Twittering or somethinging.

(I’m officially old now. Why? Because I’m about to use the old man’s phrase: “Back in my day.”)

Back in my day, we didn’t have all-knowing telephones we carried with us wherever we went. Our phones were mounted to the wall, and you could only take them as far as that pig-tailed cord would let you. (Sometimes up to fifteen feet!)

Yes, times have changed. It’s a much different world than it used to be. Here’s a list of just some of the things people used to do back in the day before the smart phones took over:

1. Look people in the eye. People actually exist in the real world, not just as profile pictures on Facebook.

2. Play board games. We used to play board games as a family. It was fun, and we learned a lot about each other, like which cousin was super-competitive and which uncle was a sore loser.

3. Write letters. Do you remember the thrill of getting an envelope in the mail with your name and address hand-written on it? Do you remember getting actual words and “conversations” sent to you from someone you knew? If so, congratulations: you’re old, too.

4. Play with toys. Back in the day, we played with toys. We had Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks and Lincoln Logs and pop guns and Barbies and other dolls.

5. Read a book. Whole worlds were opened up to us by reading books. And, books are interactive: if you turn a page, a whole new slew of words appears!

6. Use our imaginations. Instead of staring blankly at a screen, we could be cowboys or astronauts or fire fighters or soldiers or super heroes or the King of Slubovia. (Being the King of Slubovia was awesome!)

7. Go to the park. Swings. Slides. Teeter-totters. Monkey bars. Forts. Sledding. Snowball fights. Fun of all kinds.

8. Discover nature. Hiking can be fun. So can climbing on rocks, climbing mountains, and finding waterfalls. It’s much easier to do these things if you are outside.

9. Talk on the phone. Do you remember when phones were actually used for talking to someone? Did you know your smart phones can be used to call and talk to another person and have instantaneous interaction? You don’t even have to wait for them to type out the next words they want to say. It’s true.

It’s amazing what we can discover if we just put down our rectangles and look around a bit.

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