Things that Have Become Obsolete

Saying goodbye to things we didn’t realize had already left us



Sure, the computer and that wasteland of time consumption, the Internet, have killed the typewriter, the encyclopedia, and most authentic human interaction. But though we can easily point to the garages full of eight-track tapes, calculators, and Minolta SLRs, it’s not just the stuff that’s been digitized that is deader than Elvis. Have you given much thought to the last time you saw…

The Rolodex
Used to be the one-percenters were measured by that little cardboard-filled Ferris wheel perched on top of their expansive desks. That’s so ’95, and if you’re still storing your network on cardboard—get with it! You might as well take your REI gear and occupy something.

Wite-Out
Nothing said half-assed more than this goopy paint-like cover-up. Hey, perfectionism is poor time management and appearance is so, so shallow. Hit the wrong key? Don’t sweat it—just slather some of this stuff all over your doc for that “Oh, I don’t really care” image.
Easy-Open Anything
Boy, I’d like to find that Tylenol-poisoning dude and blister-pack and shrink wrap his ass. One day we’re happily trekking along with our big hair, shoulder pads, and acid-washed jeans opening containers left and right like it was nothing. Now, with all of our headaches, do we really need the act of getting a pill to leave us more frustrated than an Amish electrician?
The Bar Video Game
Before you could ignite virtual IEDs from your recliner on your 60-inch flat-screen and blow up entire third-world countries with the ironically named “joystick,” there were Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids—and beer. You could fall over your barstool backwards and land in front of one of these minivan-sized amusements in any self-disrespecting dive around. Throw down a half-dozen pitchers of Schaefer and spend a mortgage payment worth of quarters, and life was good.
Adult Bookstores
I know, I know, no Westchester reader has had any experience with crossing the shadowy threshold of a porn shop. At least that’s what my editors made me say. Today there’s no need, and if you ever were “accidentally” lured into one of those seedy corners of the Internet, you understand why. Sure, you googled “adult playground” because of your fascination with jungle gyms, but when you saw what was offered—yikes! After a quick 45 minutes you were out of there in
a hurry and ready to donate to the Family Values Super PAC.
Boom Boxes
Used to be, you had it going on if you bopped down Main Street with a gray plastic music-playing device as big as a family refrigerator balanced on your shoulder and pointed directly into your eustachian tubes. With flashing equalizer lights and set-ups for cassettes, CDs, eight-tracks, AM, FM, and who knows what else, the quality of this sonic piece of genius was measured by window pane destruction, the Richter scale, and frightened children. God bless earbuds.

Hitchhikers
A free ride and an adventure were just a thumb and a dream away, back when we wore our hair long. Then, a few lousy slashers, torturers, and serial killers, and everyone overreacts! Let’s bring hitchhiking back: Charge up the Prius, hang a half-dozen scented pine trees from the rearview, coast slowly past Zuccotti Park, and give a brother a lift.

Hotel Room Keys
Big, heavy, and substantial, a hotel room key let you know you were important enough to be out of the house. Now the gum-snapping desk clerk absentmindedly slides your plastic card through the doohickey and you’re off to your room, where the chance of the thing working is less than a coin flip landing on heads. Yet another reminder that the card, you, and the life that we’ve known have become disposable.


The Fax Machine
Remember when the posers thought they sounded like players saying, “I’ll fax it over to you.” Now they sound like wide-tie-wearing Neanderthals. Barely decipherable, crinkly, painfully slow, and woefully inconsistent, most of my faxes, I’m guessing, wound up on some bewildered agency desk halfway around the world.
Photo Booths
This haven for young lovers, mall-walking teenage girls, and passport procrastinators has faded away like an overdeveloped Polaroid. When this thing could give you a photo in three minutes, we thought we had delayed gratification licked. Now we know instant gratification isn’t fast enough.

 

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