The most fascinating thing about pop science fiction for me is the possibility of laughably failed predictions. Not just the old flying car or the rooms filled with giant computers, but more subtle things. So many sci-fi stories assumed that as technology came up with ways to make long-distance communication more similar to in-person communication, we would automatically jump on it. Everyone in the future would talk by videophones (and eventually holograms). Text communication would be obsolete!
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Also, we would dial with our brains.
Fast-forward to today, where the No. 1 way "u" stay in touch with "ur" friends is "thru" texting, which people love so much that news headlines discuss "text addiction" and drivers are so compelled to text that they drive into telephone poles and lakes.
Meanwhile, call anyone just to say hi or to settle what time you're doing something, and they'll be bewildered that you didn't just text them.
"Why are you wasting my ear time?"
If you took a sci-fi viewer or writer from decades past, who had assumed 2015 would be full of videophones and/or holograms, and instantly transported them to today, they would be very, very confused to see people constantly ignoring their FaceTime and Skype and Google Hangouts apps to type some barely decipherable message to a friend. And not only ignoring video but even ignoring the audio connection that everybody used back in the day. It would look like we actually regressed.
In this culture, it's not surprising we're ditching our telephone landlines en masse. This chart from Statista shows the decline:
The appeal of the landline is it's a cost-efficient way to just "be there" with another person for hours, even through long silences, knowing they're there, hearing their breathing, none of which was creepy at all, I swear, back in the day. It's harder on a cellphone, what with the heat, the battery life, the number of minutes you have, and the crummy reception. But none of that matters in a world where you don't think of an audio connection as opening a portal to the other person's presence. Just text 'em!
I'm not saying whether this is good or bad or trying to make some commentary about What This Means About Society Today. I'm just saying there's no point trying to sell people landlines anymore; it's like trying to sell airplane tickets to birds.
So next time you feel bad about all the ancient things you've failed to purge from your attic or closet or garage, just remember that America itself is really behind in cleaning out its own garage. Man, we really need to get around to it sometime.