Evolution of Entertainment: Communication & Engagement Before the Internet

Are you old enough to remember how people interacted before the rise of smartphones and social media?

This is the crazy part about evolution. Though our human brains and body’s take millions of years to evolve, our technology evolves in a mere fraction of that time. In fact, it wasn’t all that long ago that hardly anyone owned a television.

As we have evolved, our technology has made leaps and bounds seemingly ahead of its time in many ways. But, what did we all do before all of this technology got in the way?

You’d be surprised, but people had many ways of interacting and engaging in entertaining activities that didn’t involve scrolling through a phone and clicking on some link saying, “what to do when you have the night off.”

Here, we’ll explore how people used to communicate and have fun, before the rise of the Internet.


You might be surprised to hear this, but Usenet actually existed before the Internet as we know it today.

Usenet was developed by two Duke University grad students in collaboration with a colleague of theirs at the University of North Carolina. This was done for the purposes of sharing academic files over a computer, and was accomplished by using two Unix to Unix proxy servers in 1979.

Usenet was the architecture and the original network for chat rooms, the computer-based communication system that arose during the 1980s.

Usenet is actually still in use today and has grown in popularity in recent years due to the saturation of clickbait, viruses, scams, and the overall amount of garbage on the Internet today.

Usenet is much safer and secure than the Internet, simply because it exists on its own network. Though you can access Usenet via the Internet, it’s actually best to get started on Usenet through a service provider.


Back in the days before everyone was stuck staring at a smartphone screen, and before the rise of home video game systems, people would flock to the arcades on the weekends.

Today, you can ride around town during your morning commute and notice the kids all waiting for the bus seemingly frozen and inanimate, mindlessly scrolling through their phones.

Back in the days when the arcade was king, all of these kids, instead of staring at their phones, were actually interacting and physically socializing with one another, and often these conversations were based around sports, boyfriends, girlfriends, and the latest game at the local arcade.

Arcades brought the fun of both socializing and playing computerized games to local communities, and this lasted for a couple of decades up until the rise of at-home video game systems.

Though a few arcades are still around today, the heyday has long since passed.

Local Events

Fairs and festivals are still quite a frequent occurrence across the country, but these used to attract far more people than they have in recent years.

Lately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, most community functions were postponed or outright canceled, and this included many fairs and festivals. Though these are beginning to come back as of 2021, the fairs and festivals of today were where many in years past would go to mingle and meet newcomers to the community.

Though today, many attendees of fairs, festivals, and local events are all still wrapped up in the events that play out on their smart devices, in the days before all of our devices and gadgets, local festivals were a much looked forward to event, just for the act of face-to-face socialization itself.

Today, it seems like we have so many options to choose from when it comes to how we entertain and communicate. But, many believe that this has come with the price of sacrificing long-kept human social skills.

Regardless, humans have to keep up with the evolution of our own technology. Hopefully, we can still keep up and stay ahead of the game well beyond the next few decades of advancement, and still have a little fun doing it.