I was struck today by a moment from the past and a realization of how quickly things have changed in our society. I’ve seen the YouTube videos about encyclopedias and how kids now a days (dear god I am aging myself here but I digress) how kids don’t know how to use them.
Today I had a phone book delivered. I don’t remember the last time I used an actual phone book. If I need a number I Google it or for businesses I will often use Facebook to search them out.
Twenty five years ago the internet didn’t even exist. And for the first ten years it was mostly local chat rooms and only the most geeky accessed it on a regular basis. Who remembers the sound of dial up internet? (You’re now hearing it in your head aren’t you?) Google is only seventeen. (And yes, I used Google to look up those numbers)
I got my first computer as a wedding gift twenty years ago. And boy was it pretty awesome. I was totally up on all the newest tech. I had used computers in high school and college but this was one IN my house! Crazy.
In a mere twenty years we as a society have changed so drastically to now having multiple lap tops, ereaders, Xboxes, PlayStations, GPS's and smart phones (even children – my niece has a classmate who has an iPhone – she’s in grade one) I’m not intending to get into any discussion on whether this is a good or bad thing for our society in general. It’s just such a stark change.
Things that have disappeared or are slowly fading into obscurity in the last 25 years
-maps (that trusty folded sheet that never went back to its original format and your location was ALWAYS on the crease)
-classified ads in your local paper. (Need a job? Workopolis or going direct to the job bank. Need to buy or sell and item? Kijiji or garage sale groups on Facebook)
-rotary phones (the ones where you would screw up the LAST number and have to start over)
-Door to door salesman who sold ACTUAL products and weren’t a scam artist trying to get you to switch your hydro, phone etc. These were actual professional men who sold vacuums, pots and pans, encyclopedias, knife sets, or Watkins (cleaning products)
-VCR’s those trusty machines that we RENTED videos to watch on.
-paying for things with cheques. Writing a cheque to pay rent or the phone bill before you put it in the mail to send it off. Now it’s all instant with online or telebanking or even paying at the bank. I don’t remember the last time I used a cheque for personal use.
-Pen pals and letter writing in general. I think this is one of the saddest things. I still love getting an actual letter in the mail. Some of my greatest moments are lying on the couch writing letters to my pen pal. My confidant. And getting a letter from her was amazing.
-not knowing who was on the phone (no call display back in the day) we had to take the risk of it being a salesman
-Tape decks, CD’s, records etc. Who needs them when you can download the newest music from iTunes? Digital music so convenient that it ate up the competition.
-Dictionaries (along the same vein as the encyclopedia) we can use Google as a thesaurus and to look up spelling or meaning.
-Floppy drives (now we use the cloud for all our backups)
So now that I am feeling incredibly old and obsolete I shall go cry in the basement.