7 Things That Will Never Happen Again Thanks to Technology
Technology is a wonderful thing. Did you know that someone has invented sex toys so advanced that, depending on your idea of a good time, you could literally just lay there like a potato with an insatiable orifice and let a machine do you until you're satisfied and/or rubbed raw? That's incredible, and maybe just a touch melancholic. But for all of our technological advances, from Internet-ready refrigerators to cars that drive themselves no matter how drunk you are, there are some things we lose along the way, generally without even noticing.
"We'll Tell You Why at 11"
The news is terrible for a massive list of reasons, but this is probably the oldest reason to despise it. And thankfully, it's a defunct reason, even though your shitty local news channel still has the audacity to try it on a fairly regular basis.
If you're watching a local station, every so often you'll hear a precious nugget of newsery like, "Local police say one city park is infested with cannibal sodomites that can't be stopped by mortal weapons. We'll tell you which park tonight, after CSI." This is how, in 1970, the news tricked you into watching it. They teased you with the knowledge that something dreadful was afoot in your hometown, and if you didn't tune in to find out what, odds were that you'd wake up dead the next day. The fact they still try that bullshit today is just a testament to how stupid news directors are.
If you see a commercial that promises news of cannibals in town, you're not waiting until 11 to find out, you're Googling that shit right now and checking to see what everyone on Twitter and Facebook has to say about it. Lance Douche-Resin at 11 can shove his story up his ass if he thinks you're waiting a few hours to learn about it.
Slamming a Phone in Anger
Our children will never know the satisfaction of telling someone on the phone to shove their head up their own ass until they can see out their own mouth again and/or disappear into themselves like a Star Trek singularity, and then slamming the phone down to hang it up. They can do that first part, but the slamming is out of the question, unless you want some instant regret.
Thanks to the fact that only your grandmother who thinks color TV is a fad has a rotary phone anymore, the rest of us have to end a frustrated call by making an impotent rage face, pulling the phone away from our face, and waiting that brief moment for the screen to show up again so we can angrily mash one finger into the button to hang up. So much rage!
Those of us with slightly older phones may have the satisfaction of pressing an actual button or, for the super ragers, flipping it shut. That'd be intense.
Lying About Calling
Remember back in the day when you didn't want to talk someone and then you just wouldn't? God, that was satisfying. Like if your mom wanted you to call because it was Christmas and you were all, "Shit, busy day today with this bottle of gin I bought myself," and so you just didn't. And then on the 27th she called you, and you swore you called her but she must have been in the bathroom or something. Fat chance pulling that off ever again.
Thanks to cell phones, call display, call waiting, and voicemail, no one has missed a call in about 15 years. If you call someone, both your phone and their phone has disgusting, ugly evidence of the fact, and will hold onto it indefinitely if you want it to.
The prevalence of cell phones means there's pretty much no time in a person's life when they can't take a call, barring incarceration or a Saw-style torture scenario. You're in the woods? Why not make a call. Driving a truck down a lonely stretch of highway with a hitchhiker who keeps looking at you and licking his fingers? You can still talk to a Comcast service rep. No one will ever believe you again when you say you tried and failed to get ahold of them.
Hearing a Busy Signal
I'm going to violate the premise of this entry in the opening paragraph, because I'm a contrarian and forever surprising you with my guile and mongoose-like movements. I heard a busy signal recently. Fuck me, right?
The reason I include this despite the fact I'm contradicting it is because I actually didn't know what I was hearing for a solid 5-10 seconds. That doesn't seem long, but in the moment when the phone is producing that sound, and your brow furrows like an ape trying to understand the labels of Netflix categories, it's almost an eternity. Instead of ringing, my phone produced a grating beeping sound in my ear that a distant, reptilian part of my mind recognized, but which my thoughts were unable to sort out at first. Had I accidentally patched into an air raid siren? Was this robot porn? Had I become one with the Matrix? Nope. Busy signal.
The fact that I seriously needed a moment to piece together what was happening is a testament to how ridiculous it is to hear a busy signal in this day and age. I can't recall anymore who I was calling that I ended up hearing such a thing, but I assume it was an Appalachian corner store from 1985. I call them sometimes just to make sure shit is on the up and up.
Waiting for a Song
Remember tapes? Pieces of shit. A long time ago, in a world far less interested in convenience, all music came on tapes. They replaced records which, while large, ungainly, and easy to scratch, at least afforded you the opportunity to skip about the album at ease simply by lifting a needle. Tapes had no such built in song-skipping ability. All you could do was fast-forward and rewind blindly, in the hope that one day you might find that specific song you wanted, unless you were one of those anal wizards who had the counter properly set so you knew when your song started. Oh, and you also had a stereo with that stupid odometer thing on it.
The thrill of digital music, aside from the ease with which you can pirate it, is that it's always right there. If you need to listen to Chesney Hawkes right now, you can. In 1991, if you wanted to listen to Chesney Hawkes, you were first and foremost an asshole, and secondly shit out of luck, probably. You could try to put in your tape (which, let's be honest, no one had) or maybe turn on a radio and pray that today was bullshit music day. Today's kids will never know this foolishness. They will never hear a song on the radio and think, "Zounds, I haven't enjoyed this little ditty in a dog's age," because everything is on that damn phone that they can't slam down in a rage.
The greatest part of any college experience is seeing how far you can make it without trying. Or maybe it's about learning and mastering something, I don't know. Whatever. Point is, when I was a whippersnapper like you folks, I'd ride my donkey down to the schoolhouse, and when my old schoolmarm would ask me to do my arithmetics, I'd just copy answers off of Special Jeb. He was hit in the head by a caber at the Highland games when he was a babe and had an uncanny knack for math after that.
You like to think that anyone who graduates from Harvard did so on their own, and not by Googling their way through medical exams to become a doctor. The scary reality is that some people in the past probably cheated the hell out of their college exams, and are now working as doctors and lawyers and Beatles historians when they didn't really earn those degrees. Lucky for us in the future, then, that most if not all accredited schools now have access to massive anti-cheating and plagiarism databases, which allow a professor to simply toss your exam or thesis or random brain farts into the computer and cross-reference it against everything ever written on the same subject.
How good is anti-cheating software? If your fart smells like someone's from the 1980's, it'll tell you. The website for Turnitin.com doesn't explicitly state that, but it does say that the percentage of unoriginal content being submitted at the college level dropped 39 percent over the course of a five-year study that monitored how well the software works. That ain't bad. It not only catches cheaters, it prevents more of them.
Remember a time when you didn't know everything? God, that was relaxing. I like not knowing shit. I can't know everything -- I have finite room up in my brains to keep knowledge, and I don't want to risk losing my recipe for homemade barbecue sauce in favor of finding out that Sweden just made it legal to finger people on the bus. I'd like to know that finger thing, but not at the risk of losing anything else. But worse than the potential for losing the precious few things I'm sure of already is having my head jammed full of awful. And we can never, ever get away from that now.
In the 1970's, a gunman could open fire in a mid-sized suburban area, and the story might be a page six blurb in another city the next day. Today, it will be the number one story on every network, in every paper, for 24 hours a day, spanning at least five days. It will be analyzed ad nauseum, his picture will be on magazines, his family and friends will be scrutinized, his hobbies will be dissected, his mental state will be speculated upon, and at the end of the day (or week, in this case) he will be infamous. He will be a celebrity murderer.
There are two differences between the man in the 1970's and the man today. The first is how we disseminate news. Obviously, everything is nearly instantaneous today. People will have cell phone videos uploaded in minutes, there could be a live stream, tweets from Ground Zero, and so on. Back then, a reporter showed up a half hour after the cops.
The second major difference is that no one remembered the name of that guy in the 1970's. Hell, some papers probably didn't even report it. He was a nutter, this is what he did, and now here's a story about the San Diego Chicken. Today, and we've heard this 100 times, that guy is an inspiration to another mentally unstable person who feels like society screwed them and they deserve recognition. Now he knows he can get it. He can be on every TV and every computer screen. The guy in the '70s just went nuts. He had no notion of any fame hanging on it. He was ignorant of how big what he was doing could be, just like the rest of us who didn't know about every gruesome and perverse murder, every bizarre sex pervert who writes Internet comedy, and every time a gang of monkeys attacks an entire city on the other side of the world.
Now, you can ask yourself if it's good or bad to be ignorant of the general tone of the world. People like to look back and say, "Things were better back when," even though we've shown that's not true and the world wasn't better back in the day -- crime rates are going down, wages are going up, all that jazz. But maybe not knowing every time someone gets caught humping a horse is a good thing.
For more from Felix, check out The 4 Most Useless Pieces of Advice Everyone Believes and 4 Behaviors the Modern World Is Only Making Worse.