This Mom's Explanation to Her Son About How College "Worked" Before Email Is Hilarious

"How would you find out about anything?"

Young people today tend to struggle to understand how the rest of us managed to survive before smartphones and email. You can see their eyes widen in disbelief when we explain that, yes, we did get around using a physical map and, no, we didn't submit term papers electronically. Which is probably why anyone over the age of 40 can really relate to this hilarious text exchange between Kathy Torrence, 51, and her 20-year-old son. He recently texted her from college to earnestly ask, "How did any of college work before email?" And the conversation that ensued will really bring you back.

For example, how did she know if a class was canceled, he wondered?

By reading the note on the door that said, "Class is canceled," Torrence told him. But… but… that meant having to  wake up early and physically walk across campus just to turn back around? Why, yes—yes, it did.

mom explains how college worked before the internet to son
Barbara Noble Sobel/Facebook

Then, he asked: "How would you find out about anything?"

Well, you carried a notepad and pen around with you in order to write down interesting opportunities posted on a bulletin board, which Torrence explained was a "cork board with push pins."

Barbara Noble Sobel/Facebook

"But how would you read that without walking all the way to the building?" Torrence's son asked. (You can practically hear her "sigh" that followed.)

mom son viral text exchange
Barbara Noble Sobel/Facebook

Eventually, Torrence's son sort of grasped the concept of reading the job posting on the cork board thingy. But then what?

You had to call a phone number and talk to someone about your interest in the position, his mom explained.

"I can't imagine having to interact with an actual human for [a job]," he responded. (Understandably, Torrence didn't explain the Yellow Pages to him. He doesn't seem ready for that.)

mom explains how college worked before the internet to son
Barbara Noble Sobel/Facebook

With Torrence's permission, her friend Barbara Noble Sobel posted the exchange on Facebook on September 20th, and it quickly went viral, with more than 24,000 shares in less than two weeks.

Most people wrote that they couldn't stop laughing at the messages, and added their own memories of life in what sometimes now feels like the Stone Age.

Sure, it might not sound great to today's young whippersnappers. But if you lived through it, don't you sometimes find yourself waxing nostalgic about how much simpler things were just a few short decades ago?

"With the limitations on communication, things were so different," Torrence told Today in an interview about the now-viral texts. "But we didn't realize—you can't miss what you don't have." Ah, the glory days.

And for another fun story about schooling before the age of the smartphone, check out 12 Hilarious Questions Young People Have About the '90s.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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