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’.