Daily discoveries are the occupation of a four month old. As a parent, it’s reliving the excitement as I watch our daughter, Aster, “discover” things as mundane as her toes (which she now realizes she can put in her mouth) and more exciting stuff like the colorful wrapping on a gift. Aster likes to watch Rachel cook in the kitchen, watching mesmerized by the sights, sounds and smells of colorful veggies being diced and chopped or dough being kneaded. Everything is newly minted fresh for her.
Aster watched excitedly (it doesn’t take much to excite a 4-month old) as I applied stamps to some cards Rachel was mailing out. Come to think of it, they weren’t exactly stamps. They were postage meter tapes spit out by the automated machine in the lobby of the USPS. No pretty tulips or birds on these, just black and white postage tape. I found myself saying to her “Not sure whether you’ll ever do this Aster, but I’m mailing cards.”
Let’s say real memory starts at age 10. Of course, most of us have plenty of memories before then. I do. But they are fuzzy. So for the sake of convenience, let’s say life begins at 10. Using that nice round number I find myself contemplating things Aster may never remember or experience. These are my bold predictions, actually, they aren't so bold, because they are happening as we speak.
MAILING A LETTER – RIP MR. MCFEELY - Ah, how I loved the show Mr. Rogers as a kid. And a frequent visitor to the show as Mr. McFeeley, the “speedy delivery” postman. But kids won’t know who that even is a generation from now. In the past 10 years the USPS’s mail volume has been eviscerated by electronic bill pay, Facebook, and texts. Why send Aunt Gladys a birthday card when you can just post a meme to her wall, text her, or Skype? The need for daily mail has sunk so far so fast I can’t imagine 10 years from now mail being a meaningful part of most people’s lives.
A-S-T-E-R: Well, it’s 5 letters, I think Aster will be able to master that. But will she ever need to? Sure, she’ll need to know how to spell her name, but hand-write it? Were it not for the personal journal/diary I keep for myself, I’m not sure I’d pick up an actual pen much more than once a month. Again, texting and keyboarding seems to have put the once ubiquitous pen on the ropes.
PERSONAL CHECKS: Okay, this one I am pretty convinced about. I doubt Aster will ever own a checkbook or affix her name to a personal check. More and more businesses are dumping the old paper standby. Even among the last hold-outs, The Amish, debit cards connected to a checking account are gaining rapidly in popularity.
CABLE FRUSTRATIONS: Good riddance. This is something Aster won't experience but she won’t miss. My first memories of cable TV revolve around clunky boxes with buttons. This is one (thank you, Wikipedia) like my grandma had on a table by her favorite chair for most of my childhood. Our part of Ohio had one of the first cable systems in the nation, a local outfit called Miami Valley Cable. And I think at its peak maybe there were 40 channels. Our friends in Columbus subscribed to an exciting, fledgling service called QUBE which made Miami Valley Cable’s offerings look sparse. But today with streaming content and a la carte options available in such diverse places as YouTube, Netflix, and even Amazon, the cable industry is a dinosaur, a bloated brontosaurus in danger of collapsing under its own weight, not nimble enough to survive in a changing world. Many friends are "cutting the cable cord" in the same way people cut the land-lines to phones several years ago. This trend will only accelerate.
NEWSPAPERS: By the time Aster is 10, the daily newspaper will be something found lining boxes in the attic or coloring the memories of tales told to her by her daddy. Perhaps more than most people, I love newspapers; but love won’t keep us together. Love didn’t with Captain and Tennile and it won’t with papers. There simply is little reason for them in a world where real-time news is digested with a quick click on the eco-friendly confines of a screen. The paper part will die, but the New York Times and others will live online.
I was going to include a fax machine on this list, but I don’t even use those any more. They are already essentially gone, replaced by the photographic click of a phone and an instant jpeg. Phones connected to the wall with a cord. Those almost made my list too, but those are already mostly gone.
Anything that I’ve missed that are a daily part of our lives now but won’t be a scant 10 years from now?