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The Great Quarantine of 1982

As we work through staying home for most of several weeks or months in 2020, imagine how it might have been if we had to go through it back in 1982. We have so many conveniences that are easy to take for granted.

Schools have closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Online schooling is not an option. There is no internet. The schools have sent out packets of recommended assignments. You can do some of it if your family owns a set of encyclopedias. Before wiki-anything, some households had volumes of books often sold by door to door salesmen.

Most newspapers have changed to publishing one or two papers per week. Staff in the newsrooms must be limited. Working from home still involves carrying printed paper to the newsroom. This and 1 of 3 choices of the nightly news is your only source of outside information. There is no internet. If you have a retirement fund, you’ll find out how much its value has decreased when you get your monthly statement in the mail. It’s already dropped 30% before you can even think of putting the wheels in motion to sell.

The latest reporting shows 30,000 cases in the country, but this is only a small fraction of actual cases. Reporting from thousands of labs is done by mail and phone. It’s inconsistent and prone to error. The available information is weeks behind the actual count. There is no internet.

Entertainment options are minimal. Music is limited to the tapes and records in your house and whatever you can catch on the radio. There is that one AM station that plays pretty good music, but it’s mono, not stereo. If you live in town, you probably have MTV, which is great! Now you get to see and hear 12 or so current songs played on a loop. TV shows come and go. You’re going to need to be in front of the TV when your show comes on. You don’t have a phone or tablet for streaming video. No pausing, no recording for later, except for the few households that could afford a VCR and tapes. Top choices include The A-Team, TJ Hooker and Joanie Loves Chachi. Enjoy. There is no internet.

You might want to reach out and touch someone. See how your parent, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend is doing in their quarantine by giving them a call. If they live close by, like really close by, you can talk all you want for free, but more than 10 miles and it might be long distance and it will cost you more every minute. The longer the distance, the bigger the bill, so it’s going to be a quick call. You’re also going to be physically near the phone, most still have a cord. Better get used to writing letters. There is no video chat, no texting, no facebook, no instant messaging. There is no internet.

Today, we can play scrabble with Mom any time of day for free from anywhere, we can video chat with anyone. Many jobs can be done remotely. Kids and adults alike have virtually unlimited access to online classes and other resources to learn about virtually any topic. You can learn a foreign language, starting immediately and at your own pace. We can get our news from thousands of sources worldwide in an instant – print, video, podcast. Explore music from any era or genre. Food and supplies can be ordered online – delivered to your door. There’s a whole new SEASON of Ozark on Netflix today. Stay home while we keep the infection rates down. We can do this. It’s not that bad. We have the internet.