There was always a letter too, remember them? And if you wanted to meet pals for a drink then there needed to be at least a degree of organisation to establish when and where you would all meet.
The technological age changed all of that and as a result being sociable appears to be much, much easier than it ever has before. An email here, a friend request there all punctuated by a tweet or two and we all have more acquaintances than any of our ancestors could have dreamed about.
But great grandfather Alfred would have been appalled that many today feel it unnecessary to pop down to the local corner shop and buy a 49p birthday card with a train on it when a brief message on Facebook is now, sadly the norm.
But what our forebears would be most perplexed by is how horribly exposed many have been left by the advent of modern technology. In fact, many seem to have lost their senses.
The sporting world is currently recovering from its latest ‘textgate’ scandal which casts ex-Premier League manager Malkay Mackay as its central character. The 42-year-old, who until last week seemed to be hot property, is now fighting to save his career after details of text messages containing anti-Semitic, racist, sexist and homophobic language found their way into Her Majesty’s Press.
Their publication meant that Mackay saw a lucrative job offer withdrawn and is now in danger of being considered so toxic that he may have to endure months more Jeremy Kyle before he can pull on his tracksuit once again.
Mackay, who saw his life turned upside down after taking on a wealthy former employer who hired a top London law firm to trawl through his personal effects, finally made the inevitable apology but pointed out that the investigators trawled through 10,000 incoming and outgoing messages on his phone and that only three sent by him had caused controversy.
That’s all it takes for someone to come a cropper these days. While it would not occur to me or most of my acquaintances to send messages such as the ones found on Mackay’s phone, I am very careful about any content which leaves my mobile phone or laptop.
Years ago bosses would get rid of troublesome employees by rooting out inconsistencies in expenses claims but modern day workers need to beware of breaching their company’s IT policy.
Texts, emails, tweets and postings leave an indelible mark and if you have not grasped that simple fact by now then the future does not hold much hope for you.