RIP: 5 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade (Part 2)
Since our last publication of this list, people have been writing in and giving us more samples of items that have become obsolete over the last decade. Here are some of their thoughts on what should be on this list. It doesn’t seem possible, but each of these five items were viable only ten years ago, yet now they are either gone or in their death throes. See if you can’t come up with another five before the end of the year!
Also known as the personal digital assistant or Palm Pilot, this handy device used to be all the rage with its sleek monochrome design and trusty stylus. After 1996, no self-respecting office jockey would be seen without a way to reach out to everyone on his/her contact list, make notes, and type on the screen – at least until the Blackberry cell phone came around and changed the way we communicate. Today, if you want to be a wired person on the go, you just need your phone – or a later version touch screen cell phone which will probably make the “button phones” obsolete.
Land Based Phone Lines
There was a not so distant time that the phone came into the house with a wire from something called a “telephone pole” (Yes, Virginia, that’s why we call them telephone poles), and then went directly into your phone. You were chained to the distance the cord would reach and would literally dial the numbers for the party you wanted to contact. Later, push button phones came along, then wireless and now no one needs any of that. Today, there are 89% of the people with cell phones in the United States. We have the VoiP phones like Vonage and the old standby is still standing by – forgotten. It is estimated that 20% of all U.S. households ONLY have cell phones. The days of the land-based phone line are definitely numbered.
Woe to the postal service and all that they do for us, but sending mail is becoming so passé. By the time you find the paper and a pen that won’t run out of ink on you, write your letter, put it into an envelope, address said envelope, don’t forget your return address, drive your letter to the post office or postal box (which is also becoming an antiquity)…you could have written and sent a hundred emails or text messages. While mail is still here, it has become so much easier to jump on your computer and write to people and pay your bills online. What’s left for the USPS? Junk mail.
When I was growing up back in the seventies and eighties, you couldn’t find a mall that didn’t have at least two of these stores, let alone a few stand-alone places within town. By the time the 2000’s hit, everything was on CD, but this was just a rehashing of the old record stores. Suddenly, between 1999-2001, Napster was out and you could download any song you wanted for “free”. Granted, it was illegal, but it could be had on the internet. In 2001, Apple introduced iTunes. It the songs you wanted for less than a buck. The music stores went into a downward spiral and the ones that remain do so by offering specialty services, like hard-to-find CDs. While the simplicity of downloading MP3s is convenient, I do miss going to the stores and discovering new music.
Respect Around The World
We’ve gone against convention around the world. We’ve been advised to stay out of Iraq and we’ve attacked them anyway. In the past decade, we’ve burnt a lot of bridges along the way. Hopefully, this is one obsolete item we can restore. It used to be that the world could count on the United States to help people in need, to stand up for injustice, and to lead the way when tyrants stood against the “little man”. We seemed to switch sides and became that which we swore to protect against. This is one loss that needs to be brought back from the brink of death!