I came across a thought-provoking web page on Facebook today: 10 Things that will Disappear in our Lifetime. For some reason, I thought it would probably include cigarettes.
1. The Post Office. Well, yes, in the UK they’ve been gradually disappearing for decades, although I was in one today to top up my mobile phone. But did they mean letters and parcels and daily collections and deliveries? Maybe they did.
2. The Check. Or as we spell it in the UK, the cheque. I must say I hardly ever use them these days.
3. The Newspaper. I never buy them these days, but that’s only because none of them speak up for smokers like me.
4. The Book. I don’t see this happening for a while. I love books. And I’ve got bookcases full of them. There’s a solid permanence to them. I’ve used a Kindle electronic book a few times, but they lack something….
5. The Landline Telephone. I can believe this. I’ve got one, but I hardly ever use it. Although I used it today, just like the post office.
6. Music This was a shocker. They wrote:
This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalogue items,” meaning traditional music the public is familiar with, older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit.
To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”
My (small) understanding is that with the rise of online music, records don’t sell anymore. And the only way musicians can make any money is to perform live. And even then they can only make any real money if they’re established big names. Perhaps the music industry that grew up in the 1930s with acetate records is now dying?
7. Television. Again, I can believe this. I no longer have a TV set. Again, that’s largely because the TV companies don’t speak for smokers like me. I watch stuff online instead.
8. The “Things” You Own. They’re really talking about computer things.
Many of the very possessions we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in “the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of this is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud services.” It means when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet.
But it may be more than just computer operating systems and memory storage. In Idle Theory I thought about the notion of ownership, and suggested that when something was in very short supply, it was held in common ownership – example: the village well. When supply became relatively abundant, everyone could own one of their own – example: my piped water supply, which is my private well. And when something becomes superabundant, you no longer need your private supply – example: air.
9. Cursive. A.k.a handwriting. This is another shocker, but in an age of texting and keyboards, who writes very much by hand? Well, I write lots. And when I’m not typing away on my blog, I’m usually busy writing by hand. But I may be one of a dying breed.
10. Privacy. Again they’re talking about computers and comms:
If there ever was a concept we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. It’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure 24/7, “They” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. The TV show “Person of Interest” isn’t as far out as you may think. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits.. “They” will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.
I could add a few of my own suggestions:
11. Basic mathematical skills. Like knowing how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide without using a calculator. Also, I was taught to memorize my Times Tables. We used to have to repeat them out loud. “Once eight is eight. Two eights are sixteen. Three eights are twenty-four. Four eights are thirty-two…” All the way up to “Twelve twelves are one hundred and forty-four.” I bet they don’t do that any more.
12. Languages. Who needs to learn how to spell, when your text input device checks your spelling? Soon it’ll start checking your syntax too. And who needs to learn French, when online translators can do it for you.
13. Cash. As banking has become electronic, more and more transactions are electronic transactions via the internet. Less and less is bought using banknotes and coins. They’re on their way out. Soon, every single transaction you make will be recorded, including the lump of hashish you bought off your pal Eddie.
14. Freedom. This is something that is disappearing everywhere. Smoking bans are only one example of disappearing freedoms. We’re heading headlong into a new totalitarian era. The politicians who’re supposed to represent us don’t seem to give a damn about freedom any more.
Anyway, they didn’t list cigarettes and tobacco as something that would disappear. And I don’t think they will either.