Suppose history took a very different tack, with the social media revolution happening half-a-century earlier than it did.
How might that affect the public discussion of Formula 1?
It's a valid question simply because every aspect of the debate over F1's direction is rooted in such criticism - often based on harking back to a golden age.
What follows is an imagined critique of F1 at roughly 10-year intervals. And while fictional, it is very much based on real attitudes.
Having spent many a happy hour reading archive copies of AUTOSPORT and other publications, there's invariably strong criticism of grand prix racing of the time.
More often than not, that too tends to result in declarations that things simply ain't what they used to be.
Trouble is, they very often are...
Another bloody Michael Schumacher win. Bespoke tyres, best car, best engine, infinite testing, a number-two team-mate. So what if the F1 cars are as fast as they have ever been, this season has been plain boring with little overtaking and the same team winning almost every race.
Schumacher is a great driver, but I'd love to see someone else winning for once. He won the title with four races to spare in Belgium - that's five straight years.
Something needs to be done to stop Ferrari dominating. Other than Jarno Trulli in Monaco, there have been hardly any surprising results.
As for refueling, it artificially mixes up the grid and Schumacher just always comes through. Let's have proper, balls-out qualifying again!
Bring back the turbo era and ban refueling!
These cars look ridiculous - is this Formula 3? These stupid narrow cars with grooved tyres look absurd. This is not Formula 1.
OK, it's great McLaren is winning championships again and it's not just all about Williams for once. But they've won nine races - only Schumacher in the Ferrari can get near them.
Mika Hakkinen just has it easy in the best car. It's as if he doesn't have to try. What did he win before '98? One gifted win at the end of '97.
What we need is bigger cars, proper tyres and drivers who are willing to put it on the line like Gilles Villeneuve did 20 years ago.
Yawn. Another McLaren win. That's 15 out of 16 this year. If it wasn't for Ferrari's one-two at Monza after Jean-Louis Schlesser collided with Ayrton Senna while being lapped, we wouldn't have seen any variety.
I can't wait for normally-aspirated engines to return next year. What's the point of the current rules with 2.5 bar of pressure and just 150 litres per race? It means Senna and Prost are just on an economy run all the time.
With that Honda engine advantage, the only place Ferrari could even get close in qualifying was Silverstone. So you always know it's going to be a red and white front row.
As for overtaking, there's hardly any of it. Just cars driving off into the distance and everyone watching hoping they will break.
The only time things get interesting is when Ivan Capelli in that March does something. Wonder if that young technical director Adrian Newey will ever come to much?
Last year Ferrari, this year Lotus. I just want to see a proper battle at the front between teams and drivers.
Then, in Sweden, Brabham turns up with the fan car and Niki Lauda wins. So what happens? It gets banned. OK, not officially banned, but to all intents and purposes.
Where's the innovation, the ideas. All of the cars look the same nowadays with Cosworth engines and Hewland gearboxes. Ground effect is fine, but just means Lotus dominates. I can't see anyone beating it next year.
As for Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson, give me Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart any day. Now those were real drivers.
Yawn. Jim Clark again. He either wins or the car breaks. He didn't even have to do all the races to win the championship, doing the Indianapolis 500 rather than the Monaco Grand Prix. Still, he'll have plenty of chances to win that race in the future.
The only person with the car to challenge him is Mike Spence in the other car. But he's not up to it - does Colin Chapman just want Clark to win and no-one else have a chance? Clark's nothing compared to Juan Manuel Fangio.
And these tiny, pathetic engines. One-and-a-half litres? You are joking. These cars have less power than my lawnmower and sound about as good to boot.
Grand prix cars should be big and imposing - these just aren't grand prix cars as we know them. I fear for the future.
At least the engines are getting bigger next year. Can't see anyone beating Lotus anyway, though.
What the hell has happened to Formula 1? OK, so there aren't enough proper F1 cars around so the world championship is for Formula 2 cars, but what is the point?
Alberto Ascari wins every race. He's not even that good. If Juan-Manuel Fangio hadn't missed the season after his crash, he'd definitely have beaten him. A good driver in the second best car can still win.
At least, they could in the 1930s. Remember Tazio Nuvolari and Rudolf Caracciola - now those were drivers worthy of being called world champions. It's hard to care for races around these new circuits - what I want to see is proper road racing every weekend.
Bring back the great races of the past like Paris-Madrid. Now that was a race.
I can't see grand prix racing having a future beyond the next five or six years with these crazy rules.
BACK TO TODAY...
OK, the above is very much an off-the-cuff fantasy. But it's easy to imagine those sorts of opinions being espoused in a social-media world in its time.
The moral of this story isn't that F1 is perfect as it demonstrably isn't. But the desire to complain about how terrible everything is now compared to the past is desperately unhelpful.
It's a universal rule in humanity that the past somehow seems like a better place. Sometimes it's just because we were younger then (after all, it's easier for a 10-year-old to hero worship a driver than a world-weary 45-year-old).
The lesson is that the ongoing debate about grand prix racing's future is not helped by constantly living in the past.
Yes, the spirit and ethos that has characterised it over the years must be maintained, but the world changes.
That's why, amid F1's current identity crisis, it's essential that the debate focuses not on this imagined past - which in itself often had flaws and weaknesses - and instead concentrated on making grand prix cars and grand prix racing as good as they can be.
It's about the 21st century, not the 20th. Attempts to recreate the past usually fail. The great achievements are always delivered by those who see the future, not what has happened.
Learn from the past, don't aspire to return to it.