The Buggles proclaimed in 1979 that video killed the radio star. Roughly two years later, at 12:01 AM on August 1, 1981 MTV came online as a fledgling music video television station by airing that particular video. Truer words were never spoken.
Not too many years later the World Wide Web became more and more available around the world. Today, hardly a person in any industrialized country in the world could make-do without the Internet. Like the radio star, there are many casualties with the advent of the Information Superhighway.
Here’s a list of 10 things that have essentially gone the way of the dinosaur as a result.
Once upon a time, corporate typed memos would make their way from the top of the organizational down, usually delivered by hand by someone in the mailroom. Each employee in the company was handed one, and sometimes the really important or permanent ones were pinned to a corkboard in the break room. About two seconds after email hit the scene, the inter-office memo shot straight to the top of the endangered-species list, its demise nearly instantaneous.
When was the last time you actually opened up that kitchen cupboard and pulled out a phone book for any reason other than to toss it in the garbage? For many serious internet users, phone books were cut off back in the mid-1990s. For nearly everyone else, spurred by the prominence of cell phones, 2005 was pretty much the end. Today, our first instinct is to go online, which means phone books are officially obsolete.
Even my parents, in their late 70s, no longer hand write letters or other similar communiqués. It is email, text messages, or instant messages for them, which makes me wonder if stamps aren’t the next threatened species. Even students today are learning on computers, which is a vast departure from my days in elementary school, when I seemingly lost about a million #2 pencils. If it’s any consolation, we’re much better typists today than ever before.
If we ever did have such a thing, we don’t any longer. The internet advanced what’s known as the “open bookÝ society. The theory behind it suggests the more a business or other similar enterprise opens its proverbial kimono to show all, the more accessible it will make itself for customers and clients. Sadly, there was never a real answer given for how the “open book” would affect individuals. In short, our individual privacy has been murdered.
Sure, we can control some of it, but when little Tommy and Sally are busy posting every family picture ever taken, and telling their friends where you’re going on vacation, and how much money you make all over Facebook, it doesn’t take long to realize if you’re not totally and completely off the grid, you can give up the illusion of personal privacy. For what it’s worth, it’s helped me sleep easier at night, aside from the fact they might know everything about me.
If you’ve ever wanted to see an entire industry on life-support, look no further than print newspapers. As more and more news content is made instantly available online, less and less content is being sought that will already be many hours old by the time your sprinkler system completely ruins the front page of your local rag. One day there will be no more print newspapers. Gone will be the delivery boys and girls who will have already created an app that will deliver the news to your phone. For old times’ sake, buy a newspaper once in a while if for no other reason than nostalgia.
Remember when there was a video store on every corner? Remember how every grocery-, drug-, and convenience storestocked lots and lots of videos for rent and sale? No? Then it’s because you’re a young person. For the rest of us, we’ve seen the internet, and companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, nearly make obsolete that very notion of a corner video store. Now, we just point and click. No late fees, no rewind fees, no not finding something to watch.
For millions of shy and introverted victims of agoraphobia, the advent of the online community and its subsequent spinoffs has been nothing short of life-altering. For the rest of us, we’re witnessing the very early stages of the death of the in-person conversations. Dying are the face-to-face meetings that we rely on to come to grips with the fact that we’re just as screwed up as everyone else. I wonder how I’ll conduct the old “birds and the bees“ conversation with my now-two-year-old son? Webcam?Text message? Facebook chat? To Be Determined.
Door-to-door job searches
If you’re like most people my age—pushing 50—then you’ve done your fair share of knocking on doors and filling out applications while a patient receptionist pretended to care. Today, nearly every company in the world accepts applications online. In fact, it’s become the preferred method. It’s efficient and a lot less personally intrusive and stressful than past methods. Today, a person could be hired entirely over the internet as more and more companies turn to video interviews. It’s easier than ever before to apply for a job today. See? Not all internet-related “snuffs” are such a bad thing, huh?
Not only did video kill the radio star, but online video killed music-video television. As an impressionable youth, I recall spending countless, empty hours glued to my couch watching MTV on the old console television. Today, I’m seldom without my laptop so I can’t really be bothered to discover which channel on my cable programming belongs to MTV. Doesn’t really matter anyway because they don’t show music videos any longer. YouTube and the like ensured their swift and permanent death. Today, bands and other artists release their latest videos directly to online resources.
Language is fluid and ever-evolving, and I have mixed emotions about the current evolution, filled with emoticons and text-message shorthand. I don’t mind acronyms like BRB (be right back), AFK (away from keyboard), and LOL (laugh out loud). I don’t even mind OMG, BFF, and TTYL. But I’ll be hanged if I can abide the butchering of the language through the intentional shortening of words. ‘What’ becomes ‘wot’ and any word that can be represented by a number, like two, too, and to, or fore, four, and four, become 2 and 4 no matter their context or usage. Don’t get me wrong. I understand lazy, I understand shorthand, and I’m a big fan of the internet. But I’m also a writer and I’ll always prefer the more traditional use of our language. TTFN.