By Guest Blogger Lisa Witherspoon
A couple years ago, my husband and I took our three daughters to an event on a local college campus. While there, we walked through one of the older buildings and passed by a bank of payphones. “What are those?” the girls asked. I explained the concept of putting a quarter into the slot to make a call. They thought the idea was completely absurd! “Why wouldn’t you just use your cell phone?” they questioned. I reminded them that there was a time before the invention of cell phones when people were dependent of those archaic methods of calling someone to which they responded, “You mean payphones are a real thing? We thought Adam Levine just made it up for that song!”
It occurred to me then that there are, in fact, several “old fashioned” things and concepts my kids will simply never understand thanks to modern technology!
Payphones – Obviously, because as my kids noted in my opening spiel, now we just use cell phones.
How to fold a map – My kids will just enter an address into an app. Then, some strange woman with an Australian accent will give them step-by-step directions to their destination – no map required.
How to look something up in an Encyclopedia or Dictionary – Let’s face it – they’ll just Google it.
How to use a rotary dial phone – My grandmother had a black one. I used to love to put my fingers in the circular opening and spin that dial, but it took forever to call someone. Now, my kids just tell Siri to “Call Mom.”
How it feels to be tethered to the wall when talking on the phone – When my family got a cordless phone, I thought it was so cool that I could take the phone to my room and shut the door! Nowadays, we can walk around almost anywhere and even drive our cars while we talk on our phones.
Traveler’s checks – Do they even make these anymore? Before we went on a vacation, my parents went by the bank to trade cash for these little ditties. These days, everyone just uses plastic.
Being limited to three TV channels – Back in the day, we only had the Big Three – NBC, CBS, ABC. There was no FOX, CNN, MTV, Disney, or Nickelodeon. Today, it is absolutely mind boggling how many channels and mind numbing shows are available.
Walking across the room to change the channel – When I was a kid, I was the remote control. Now, we have so many remotes that I don’t even know what half of them are for!
VHS and Cassette tapes – Last summer, I was showing a movie on VHS to a group of kids at our church. As they impatiently waited, I told them I had to rewind it to the beginning. Most of them didn’t even know what “rewind” meant.
The sound of a dial up modem – Modern kids would probably think Earth is being invaded by aliens or zombies if they heard the sound that anyone over 30 would instantly recognize as the doorbell to the Internet.
How to entertain themselves on a road trip by playing the license plate game and singing “99 Bottles of Pop on the wall” a few dozen times – Even ten years ago when my kids were toddlers, we had a minivan with a DVD player. Now, newer model cars come fully quipped with wifi and our kids are fully equipped with devices to stave of boredom (and save our sanity) if we plan to be in the car for longer than 20 minutes.
Giving someone you care about the gift of a Mix Tape – I can remember sitting by the radio for hours with my tape recorder ready just waiting for that certain song to come on so I could record it. Thanks to iTunes, we will never have to do that again.
Flipping through a photo album – Remember the days of loading the film into your camera, watching the number tick lower with each photo you snapped, dropping the film at the drug store, going back a few days later to see what you actually captured, then organizing them in a photo album? For my kids, Instagram is their photo album. Many “youngsters” will probably never even own a camera – they will just use their cell phones.
Saturday Morning Cartoons – Would you believe I actually quit a Saturday morning dance class when I was about six because it meant missing my morning cartoons? (That and the teacher was horrendous according to my memory.) Today, my kids can see cartoons and “tween” sitcoms anytime they turn on the TV. They will never appreciate Doc McStuffins the way I appreciated The Smurfs!
Modern technology has certainly made our lives easier and I will be the first to admit that I love my contemporary conveniences. However, it does make me a little sad that my kids will never experience the smell of an old Encyclopedia or the excitement of waiting for that song to finally come on the radio. I can only imagine how ancient our current advancements will seem to my grandkids another 25 years from now!
*This post has been updated from its original run on The Golden Spoons blog