xkcd_typewriter

The other day I was thinking about technology and its many advances and applications, specifically how fucking difficult it is to explain something like “the internet” to my parents.  Seriously, stop and think for a minute about what words you would use to describe the internet to someone who continually mashes the input button on the remote instead of the channel button, thereby switching the actual TV set channel to 4 (instead of 3) and then shouts about what “a piece of shit” the whole thing is.  Or what about the person who never, ever checks the voicemail on their cell phone, preferring to ask me every time, “How does the phone know what time the mail comes?  That little envelope is back again.”

There is no denying that the mere thought of my parents booting up to go online terrifies me.  I installed mega virus protection on their PC – they never ran the scans or updates.  I configured spam and malware filters in their email program – they never click anywhere but the Inbox.  I set them up with a printer/scanner/copier – they print EVERYTHING they pull up online.  And then bitch to me about the need to replace the paper and ink.  I created a painfully simple file share on their desktop – I got roped into an hour long discussion of, “But, why wouldn’t I just print it and put it in my filing cabinet?”

And this is progress, people.  A couple of years ago I was trying to teach them how to use a MOUSE.  But I digress.  My point is more about the things we lose as a part of societal culture, with the increase in Web 2.0.  Here are some that immediately came to mind;

– Pen Pals: I remember having pen pals when I was a kid, sometimes it was a family member and sometimes it was some kid in Sudan I never met.  But it was always fun to write them a letter, doing my absolute best on spelling and cursive – and even more thrilling to get that return letter in the mailbox when you came home from school.  Nowadays, these delinquents I run across can barely spell their own name and have never mailed a piece of written correspondence in their wasteful little lives.  (Additionally, the ability to write a complete sentence without any text speak is becoming an ancient practice. )

– Trust: What?  You mean you don’t doubt those wealthy Nigerian fellows with the same last name as you, freshly distraught from the death of their (insert prestigious relative) who only need an active bank account to claim their fortune and handily cut you a chunk in the process?  Hmph, socialist.

– Timepieces: Whether it’s wearing a watch, having a clock in the room or an alarm by the bed – who needs one when your PDA/Too-Smart-For-Practical-Use device is permanently attached to your body?  Well, I do.  I look good in a watch, what can I say?  Plus it makes it so much easier to run away from people I don’t want to talk to — oh, is that the time?  Gotta run!

– Travel Agents: Now, I will confess that I never actually walked into or called a travel agent’s office and asked them to book me a trip.  But I did get my travel agent license (uh, online of course) several years back with the intention to do it on the side for a little pocket money.  It wasn’t long before sites like Orbitz came along and rendered the need for a travel agent moot.  And the state of travel is so piss poor these days anyway, it doesn’t matter if your booking went smoothly, you will NOT be getting a stress free, leisurely travel experience no matter what you pay.  You will have to line up to check in, line up to check your bag, line up for security, line up to board and then get fucked in next to that screaming, spittle launching child just like everyone else.  And then you will feel that same murderous rage when the machiavellian seat the airline has jammed you in causes your spine to shatter and they have the nerve to say shit like, “We now invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.

– Phone numbers: I used to know the numbers of the people important to me by heart.  This was when they each only had ONE number and area codes were not necessary.  Today?  I’m lucky to remember what letter your (real/screen) name starts with so I can find you in my phone.  Yes, some of you are in there and I have no clue what your given name is (dealers are exempt from this policy).

– Maps: Once you start using GPS, you may never find your own ass without it again.  Evil, evil device.

– The concept of a Friend: Facebook is there to broadcast every. single. inane. detail about the people in your friend list, most of which you don’t give two shits about.  Unless you’re one of those weirdo’s that tracks everything about someone but never actually talks to or spends time with them.  Yes, you are a fucking weirdo and no, you and I do not meet the definition of friend.  I know everyone has their own definition of a true friend, which hopefully includes some respectable criteria – but come on, ‘friending’ someone on Facebook does not usually equal that person becoming someone you could really turn to in a crisis.  For the record, my definition of a friend is this; someone who will help you move or bail you out of jail.  (But to clarify, Facebook friends can definitely be loads of fun to ‘talk to’ even if you don’t meet them somewhere, my point was that EVERYONE in your friend list does not equal ride-or-die type friend.  Don’tdefriendmeitotesloveyou!)

– Film: Fill-lem, as my parents say.  I do not remember the last time I bought a roll of film, it would have been back before I started buying disposable cameras even.  Digital pics and video, events captured with a cell phone cam – that’s what we use today.  Funny enough, my mother whined about wanting a digital camera for SO LONG (I held off because a) she dropped my camera in her cappuccino and b) see above anecdotes about general cluelessness to gadgets) and when I finally got her one what did she do?  She ran to Walgreens to print her first pics and hasn’t been back since.  When I asked her how she liked the camera she said, “Well, I didn’t know it would be such a hassle to get the fill-em developed!”  I give up.

– Exposure to porn: No more sneaking into your brother’s room to swipe his under-the-mattress stash, simply go online and the porn will find you.  Oh, how I lament the loss of that thrilling excitement when the Adam & Eve catalog came in the mail!  Sadface.

– Phone Books: When was the last time you needed a number or address and then went flipping through a thick ass yellow newsprinted tome to find it?  I thought so.  And yet, those fuckers find their way to cluttering up my doorstep every few months.

I think I could do this all day, but that would make me feel old.  What am I saying?  There is no ‘old’, only vintage!  and retro!  Put some dayglo on it and make it new!

Machiavellian

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