LOLCol by Sarah Gaul
At the risk of sounding like one of those crotchety old grandmas sitting in a rocking chair throwing things at kids on my lawn – I truly am so thrilled that “back in my day” all I had to contend with was keeping my small herd of albino guinea pigs alive, and (in a truly millennial moment) my ongoing quest to get on the property ladder with the Barbie Dream House.
While I assume my albino guinea pigs would have gone viral on every social platform (if you haven’t seen one, have a google – real satanic vibes), I’m still so thrilled I didn’t have to also manage my image across several different social media accounts before I was legally allowed to drive.
I got my first mobile phone when I was 16 (something akin to a Nokia 3315; indestructible, and wicked for a game of snake). My first laptop arrived when I was 20 (one of those chunky white macbooks). And my first smart phone when I was like… 23, maybe.
Not Amish; just born in 1990.
Sarah Gaul: Does not identify as Adult
Adulty adults love a good whinge about kids being on their phones. I don’t identify as an adult, so I think they’re brilliant. What a wonderful way to stay connected with people you love (and keep tabs on people you hate). I’d have no idea what is going on with my friend in the UK if it wasn’t for Instagram. I eagerly await #aesthetic updates from my friend who is roadtripping around Australia. And I certainly wouldn’t know the wonderful success of my comedian friends if not for regular updates on Facebook.
But – I still wouldn’t swap my analogue childhood for anything.
To amuse ourselves, we would put each other in the recycling bin and wheel each other around the neighborhood; play nonsense games at the park that involved mud pies and a noble quest to save an imaginary pack of stray dogs; and if we got super bored, randomly rearrange our bedrooms and then show our parents who were like ‘…yeah cool.’
While I didn’t have all the world’s knowledge at my fingertips, I had the friends who lived on my street. And my guinea pigs; and that was all I needed.
The joy – and curse – of not knowing what anyone else is up to.
Taking you back to the days of Kodak
Isn’t it wild to think that back then. If a friend just went away on holiday, I just had to… wait until they got back to hear about it. I had to wait another two weeks for their photos to get developed at the Kodak store on the main street to see proof of anything. Then the photos get relegated to an album in a box in a drawer to be dug out when someone dies or gets married or turns a significant age ending in zero.
In news that shocks no one, I was a dog and horse girl. I subscribed to this, errrr, monthly dog magazine, and there was this little section at the back for penpals. We would literally publish our home addresses in a (national) magazine. What a safe, great idea.
From that magazine I gained a small army of penpals who I exchanged letters with for many years. Nothing beat the high of checking the mailbox for a letter brandishing my barely legible address scrawled in child’s handwriting. The precious letter inside detailed the humdrum of of everyday lives across regional towns in Australia.
Currently, my roster of regularly received mail includes information from Transport NSW (it’s yet to be a speeding fine but maybe one day), assurances from my local member that they are doing THE MOST for their community and, of course, wedding invitations delivered in a staggeringly high quality paper stock.
The current direction of connection
I guess the modern equivalent of a letter is – an email? An Imessage? A ten minute voice memo recorded while driving? It still stands – no matter what, it’s still a joy hearing from my friends, whether big (I’m adopting a dog!) or tiny (‘saw this and thought of you’).
A person’s life changes irrevocably when they become constantly accessible. When they get a phone, or a smart watch (mine is analogue for the record, and I think it’s been 45 minutes behind for weeks now), you’re always on. Occasionally when I’m somewhere picturesque I think, “Today is the day I’ll put all my devices away and just be present.”
But then I see a weird dog or a hilarious number plate or a guy in a great hat and immediately whip out my phone. “My friends would absolutely love this.”
Yes, there’s joy in being disconnected. But there’s almost as much joy in sharing.
Sarah Gaul is an award-winning musical comedian, writer, and actor who has toured all over the world. You may have seen her in breakout Aussie comedy HOT MESS on Netflix, or on ABC’s TONIGHTLY . Catch her show WIFE at Smith’s Alternative for one night only on the Friday, 29t July. Tickets here. Want a preview? WIFE is available on Spotify right here.