Social Media Before The Internet

Adam Hrankowski

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I wrote a short article in 1976. I was twelve. It was titled The 10 Steps to Meeting Girls. Even before the Age of the Internet, I must have sensed the value of the listicle. I also had an insight into the psyche of the pre-adolescent male.

I produced my piece with an Underwood manual typewriter. It was the kind with the lever-keys. If you typed t-h-e too quickly, you had to stop to unmesh the three hammers with your fingertips. That happened a lot.

My buddy, Alan hung The 10 Steps inside his locker door. You got to have a locker to hold your instrument if you were in the school band. I was in the choir, so Alan provided the required platform .

I don’t remember how long the piece was. (I do know there was a staple involved.) Students gathered outside Alan’s locker at recess and lunch break. They would request the document and pass it around amongst themselves. Others would crane their necks to get a glimpse at the pages.

Slow down!

Turn the page!

The 10 Steps made the rounds in the teacher’s staff room. I became famous for my insights, gleaned from the masters, Richie and Fonzie from Happy Days. Mr. Addicott the music teacher said I was “a born storyteller.” Mrs. Tyler, the art teacher asked me to write her a poem. (I never did. The unactioned request stills weighs on me.)

I don’t know what ever became of The 10 Steps. These were the days before easy access to photcopiers. Perhaps the non-fungibility of a unique manuscript contributed to its perceived value.

This is what social media looked like in 1976. You could see your followers. You heard their comments in real time. You carefully considered before sharing, because sharing meant somehow creating another copy or giving up the one in your possession.

The school I attended had six hundred students. Recently some of my articles and videos have gained thousands of views. However, nothing compares to the exhilaration I felt seeing a dozen of my fellow students outside Alan’s locker, competing over who was next going to get to read The 10 Steps.

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