Planned Obsoletion

No Telling

I‘ve been sitting here staring at Huffington Post’s photo slideshow. It’s called “12 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade” and it’s funny in that way that makes you laugh and shake your head just before you cry.

Many of these took me by surprise – I guess I’m such a geezer that I missed out on some kind of sea-change. Yes, I received a Googlewave invitation about a month ago, and no I haven’t clicked on the link yet. You can’t expect much from a gal who collects manual typewriters anyway, so that should give me a pass.

Just so you’ll be In The Know, here are the twelve things that are suddenly obsolete in the past ten years:

1. classified ads in newspapers
2. dial-up internet
3. encyclopedias
4. CDs
5. landline phones
6. film and film cameras
7. Yellow Pages and address books
8. catalogs
9. fax machines
10. wires
11. calling people on a phone
12. hand-written letters

Are you kidding me? I still have (or do) at least nine things from that list. To be honest, the daily business of our university would come to a halt if the fax machine went down, so it’s not just me.

I started thinking a bit on the whole idea and it only gets worse. I have a whole gaggle of obsolete skills – many of which cost me good tuition money to learn. I can take shorthand, queue up records for radio, edit sound tape with a cutter and – um – tape. I can drive a stick-shift. I can operate both a film projector and a slide projector, and – stand back – I know how to lay out an entire newspaper using wax, Exacto knives, and a light board.

None of these skills mean anything anymore, but I can understand that. It’s been quite a few years since technology shoved it’s wide shoulders to the front of the line. I always hated shorthand anyway. That’s not the problem.

The problem is speed. My music has gone from record, to reel-to-reel, to 8-track, to cassette, to CD, to digital in an instant. I’ve bought The White Album six times. If we can lose landline phones and speaking to another voice over them in only ten years, what’s next?

Some of these may pass by without much notice, but there are at least two generations of Southern women who’ll have to die before the hand-written thank you note does. Just sayin’.

18 thoughts on “Planned Obsoletion

  1. LOL – I live in a small town in Kansas and believe me when I say the landline is alive a well here. Actually it doesn't seem like it was that long ago that we could call anyone in town by dialing 4 digits. My granddaughter learned all about Thank You notes at her Princess Tea Party (check my blog in July 2009). Wichita Eagle still has classified ads. I think our telco may still have dialup. I receive catalogs all the time. Actually I have 78rpm records and a couple players that will play them, one as old as the records. Things have been advancing quickly for some time. When I was doing my genealogy research I met my grandmother's cousin that was 98 years young and still living on her own. As a young girl she recalled traveling via stagecoach and as a young schoolteacher her father made her purchase a buggy because proper women did not ride astraddle a horse. Her life spanned horse and buggy to jet airplanes. The coming of the telephone to desktop computers. It's amazing when you stop to think about it. 🙂

  2. Life certainly does move quickly these days, but I think they were jumping the gun with their list. Perhaps those things are obsolete in the sense that you _could_ do without them because new alternatives exist.
    For my part, I intend to keep hand-writing letters for as long as its possible to post them.

  3. Progress definitely outraces me! What is with all of this texting? It is so much easier to just talk to a person. Phones have now become computers. I am still stuck in the 90's when it comes to technology. I am always 20 years behind.

  4. its happening faster and faster these days…things disappear without notice until you actually sit ont he couch (thankfully not obsolete) and let your mind actually think at a pace that is not racing with the time…

  5. The music director at our church retired as of yesterday. A few days ago, I sent him a card and inside it, I typed him a note. It's sad, I know, but it was just easier to type it.

  6. HA! Forget the handwritten thank-you notes–I get called all sorts of foul names for just wondering if my nieces actually got the gifts I selected, wrapped and mailed in plenty of time for the holidays. Don't get me started.

    Hot Dam, Monda, I'm glad you're back!

  7. I counted 8 of those things that I still use and do not want to have to do without. What a sad state of affairs when children don't have a Sears Wish Book to look at, dog-ear and wear out during the days leading up to Christmas.

  8. Those things can't possibly be obsolete, I use them all the time! Well, except for the Sears catalog, but I LOVED that when I was a kid. I did exactly what Oklahoma Granny said. The poor thing was falling apart come Christmas time.

  9. You know what, you're right. The information age with all its flashy lights and jazz comes with its woes. Ok, confession: I sometimes wish I grew up in the 20's…. like I think that was the golden age… but then again this has its drawbacks… I won't get into it.

    Anyway I still do alot of these things and I just turned 21… so hopefully that makes you feel better. However, I will only call someone on the telephone if they are worth the time and energy… and only certain people get the number to my house phone.

    And i LOVE letters. ugh. shutup information age.

  10. also,

    welcome back… I almost sent a search party out looking for you.

    I mean… you were like… the FIRST blog aside from immediate family member or childhood friend that I decided to follow… and then you were like gone. youre like my fairy godmother of the blogosphere.

    ok, dramatics are over. go about your business, don't mind me 🙂

  11. The Yellow Pages have helped me survive umpteen military moves, steering me to newsstands, bakeries, and book stores. I've owned a half dozen cell phones but they just don't measure up to my trusty landline and even trustier answering machine. In our rush to embrace new communication technologies, I worry about what that means to Aunt Bertha, Uncle Wilbur, and all the other old folks sitting in nursing homes waiting for the postman to arrive.

  12. Well, I am 31 and just left a job at a newspaper that the classified ads in the newspaper were NOT obsolete, and we still used wax, a light board and an exacto knife! We still had land line phones, as do my parents. I still depend on the yellow pages, still have CD's (even bought one a few months ago) and we really depended on our fax machine at my old job as well!
    So, I say trash that list! It makes me feel obsolete, and I am NOT that old! LOL! (also I hear if you use LOL, that is not old! HA HA) 🙂

  13. This either means that Huffington Post is dead wrong or we're all a little bit geezery in our own special ways. I love that about us.

    I will point out something important, though. I pay a nice little piece of change each month to have internet access on my phone. Without it, I'm paying for every 411 call to get a number…

    …my phone book is free. So there.

  14. I concur on the the handwritten thank you note. My mother drove it into my head as a child that I always neede to write one. I am very diligent about it and will do the same thing with my daughter. Want to know the ironic thing? My mother drove into me, but I can not tell you the last time I received a thank you note from her. Ironic?

  15. Think of all the stories that we can tell our grandchildren. My grandfather went from horse drawn plow to landing on the moon. I didn't think our generation could top that “the way life used to be” story. A few years back all I could think of was the VCR and video games were the ones that exemplified real change because everything else either became more routine or was improved upon.

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