9 Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime

I have talked before about how society is changing faster than ever, to the point that we can no longer expect one generation’s lifestyle to be much like those before and after it.  For example, I remember the time when I told my daughter what television used to be like:  we had a black and white TV, which only had three channels if you didn’t count the occasional UHF station.  Cartoons were mostly confined to Saturday morning, and because we didn’t have remotes, we had to walk all the way across the room to change the channel.  Alas, my daughter didn’t have much sympathy for my plight.

Anyway, in previous messages (May 28, 2009, December 15, 2009, and January 7, 2011), I posted lists of things that are disappearing fast, and will probably be gone in our lifetime.  Now here’s a fourth list, which I’m sharing because most of the items did not appear on the others.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find out who wrote it; if you’re like me, you will find some of these disappearances disturbing.

9 Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime…….

Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come.

1. The Post Office. Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. e-mail, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The Check. Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with checks by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process checks. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the check. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper. The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4. The Book. You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading music fromiTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone. Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they’ve always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.

6. Music. 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 because innovative new music isn’t 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 “catalog items,” meaning traditional music that the public has heard for years, from 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.”

(Unquote:  No wonder my home town doesn’t have a top 40 station.  However, the University of Kentucky has two radio stations playing artists you don’t hear elsewhere, and that gives me a spark of hope.  And some new artists are turning to nontraditional sources to get their music out, like YouTube.  Did you hear how the band Journey picked up a new member that way, out of a slum in the Philippines?)

7. Television. Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to most of it. It’s time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.

8. “Things” That You Own. Many of the very possessions that 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 that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud services.” That means that 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. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That’s the good news. But, will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof?” Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy. If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That’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 that 24/7, “They” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. And “They” will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.

All we will have that can’t be changed are memories.

21 responses to “9 Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime

  1. Re: 6 Music.

    I have a brother in the music business who has been talking about this for years. It is not music that will die, but the business model used by the music industry that is toast.

    According to him, CD / MP3 sales are now intended to funnel people into concerts, and the real money making platform for the record companies are the concerts and band paraphernalia (t-shirts, clothing, etc).

    One of the things he did at a radio station in Dallas was produce a series of CDs in the early 1990s called Tales from the Edge. They were compilations of music from local bands – great music for maybe $5/pop. He did versions for San Diego (Saint Doug) and San Francisco. These CDs demonstrate that the music and creativity is out there as it always has been.

    Yet there are more bands out there than ever, making more music than ever. The problem is getting it distributed. An analog to this is the gatekeeping ability of the old line, mainstream press, which exercised real power in the information world by what was NOT reported rather than what they did report. And like the newspapers and mainstream media, the Army of Davids tools available to us all is destroying their business model.

    Some bands are starting to release music directly to the web and ask for donations per download or afterward. This cuts out the record companies completely – which is why they have been so heavy handed defending their turf via DOMA legislation and RIAA lawsuits. This is a failing strategy, as it is never a good idea to stomp all over your customers.

    I think you are going to see this all transition to the web via downloadable music and video which will give us more choices than we ever thought possible. Cheers –

  2. Although I agree with you on most of these items, unfortunately a few political promises will have to be met for them to materialize.
    The items you mention that involve broadband have a MASSIVE hurdle to jump in order for them to be realized. Currently, only 45% of the nation GEOGRAPHICALLY has broadband available to it. Mind you, I realize that means that around 85% of the population have high speed internet access. But before people like myself (I live in a very rural area and have to still use either dial-up (MEGA slow), satellite (expensive, inconsistent and not fast enough for streaming a movie), or an air card with poor reception(Too slow in the boonies to be called ‘high speed’)) will simply sit back and watch them eliminate TV, DVD movie rentals and music on CD’s before we have been given access to broadband, we will start marching on Washington and try to get the next Pres to keep the promises of the current and previous Pres who both said they would ‘bring high speed internet to the rural areas of th U.S.’ . . . and haven’t.

  3. I might add that it is irritating to hear people like you talk as though the entire planet has access to high speed internet or even the web. It demonstrates that we the people of the U.S. not only have a certain ‘I assume everyone in the world has what I have’ mentality, but we also have that same self absorbed thinking within the borders of our own country. There are 63 homes along the road where I live of which NONE of us have any real broadband solution in place. 63 homes on one little country road in rural Missouri. How many don’t have it all across the U.S.? It is SUPER annoying to hear B. Obama talk of how he wants to bring high speed internet to the ‘inner city children’. What the ???

  4. Dear Dan, I’m sorry if I offended you. Back in 2003, when I lived in Florida, I read an article in Wired Magazine which declared that the part of the country that is the least connected to the Internet is central Appalachia. Then in 2006 I moved to a central Appalachian state, namely Kentucky, and broadband access was easily available in my new home town (I only had dial-up in Florida). Now everyone in my family has broadband, except for my father, who is still in Florida. I must have assumed that because Kentucky was catching up in technology, other rural states were doing the same. Of course, Missouri may be the one to catch up next.

    As for promises from President Obama, I can’t be responsible for those. Heck, Kentucky was the very first state to vote Republican in the 2008 election; we have trouble relating to a guy whose favorite food is a salad green most of us have never even heard of.

  5. It is so interesting to see how we have been so artfully manipulated into seeing everything negative as Obama’s fault. I bet he is responsible for all the Tornadoes too and even for the Tsunamis, oh and the high price of tomatoes due to the excessive rain and freeze. It makes us feel so much comfort because it is the very popular thing to do and otherwise we would feel so powerless which we really are unless we are part of the super rich who spend billions every day to spread propaganda to blame Obama for all our troubles. When he is gone we will then be able to blame him for having caused all our problems for the next 100 years.

  6. Well not all of Kentucky has caught up so to speak. I live in southern Kentucky and I have no Broadband options currently. I’ve tried for years to get broadband in my area, what I ended up with is satellite internet. It’s paltry bandwidth limits and high ping rates make it worse than dial up! I had high hopes for a new wireless service provider that started providing service in my area, but as soon as they got a contract to supply the local government with service they started ignoring the little people. Other Wireless providers have tried to move in, but have faced opposition. We need to provide everyone in this country with the same level of opportunities for advancement, and I think we have fallen short in broadband access.

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  8. I agree with agimarc’s comments, for the most part. You have missed the mark on “music”, and gave the wrong reason for the failure. It’s not illegal downloads, its cookie-cutter music. When you buy mainstream music, 2 or 3 songs on the CD are quality, and the rest is mediocre or worse. Even in the 70’s and 80’s, this was the case. Go listen to “Who’s Next”, probably one of the greatest albums of all time. Half of it is crap.

    Now, when I find a group, there *may* be 1 or two “bad” songs on a CD. By “bad” I mean “okay, but too slow for my taste”. As agimarc said, there are more bands making more music, and it’s better than ever.

  9. Re: Nine Things that will Disappear — #9 PRIVACY

    Indeed, technology is altering our lives in unimagined ways, as all the items in this list attest. But the ninth item on this list is wrong — privacy is NOT a nostalgic concept that left long ago. In fact, the opposite is true. Interest in privacy has never been greater — not only on the part of individuals, but savvy businesses who seek to gain a competitive advantage. Our need for privacy has never been greater. Contrary to popular belief, privacy is not about secrecy or avoiding cameras on the street — it’s about freedom — it’s about control over our personal information.

    The technology that serves to threaten privacy may also be enlisted to its support — if we take proactive measures. Now an international standard, Privacy by Design (PbD) involves embedding privacy directly into the design specifications of information technologies and business practices — ideally making privacy the default setting, to ensure that our privacy lives well into the future. Find out more at http://www.privacybydesign.ca

    Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.
    Information and Privacy Commissioner
    Ontario, Canada

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  13. The whole thing about music really annoys me. I mean, the first actual company that started to sell music online in large quantities was apple. Come on. A Tech Company selling more music than any record company. They all must be kicking themselves not to have thought of the idea first. Don’t see why they didn’t think about it before, considering Napster was out way before iTunes.

  14. I’m with you on most of these, especially the “Let TV die.” I watch some sports and some classic shows during the insomnia hours, but little else. I recently started spending evening with my girlfriend and her family, and they watch the network shows that I haven’t seen in years. They will ask me what I think of this show or that show. It’s hard to come up with any answer except banal, infantile, idiotic, boring, and just plain stupid. It was an eye opener for me. And the commercials constantly. Yeah, I’m in 100% agreement on that one.

    Being involved with the music industry for the past 35 years, I don’t think the answer is as simple as it appears. Part of the cut of the record companies ware put back into studio time for the musicians, giving the newer promising acts some help getting their first tours off the ground, and the big thing…promotion. In the 60’s the promo department would work the phones constantly. When an artist was playing in a town, they’d be contacting the radio stations arranging interviews and working deals for increased airplay while the band was in town. They would wine and dine distributers to get them to push their albums. So their cut wasn’t just going into their profits.
    I love downloads…it simple, usually less expensive, although that gap is closing. My gripe? Apple (who I love) and Amazon get appr 30%. For what? Keeping the music on a server and processing the payments. They do NOTHING for the artists. So I certainly don’t think they are the saviour of music. I agree with the one comment that formatted radio is killing the industry. And once the explosion of talent and the resulting open door policy–in the 60’s if you had a local hit you could go to NYC for a day and hit all the companies, and someone would bite. That was short lived. Soon the A&R people had to say “They sound like so & so” to even get a band signed. Between that and formatted playlists force feeding the public the same handful of songs out of the millions available, we get little chance to hear innovative music except on college radio and youtube. But the great music is still out there waiting to be heard. Young musicians search, and find the great new artists, but the public in general can’t. And it’s too bad.

    Anyway…good article! Just had to point out that I don’t think downloaded music is helping the cause, unless the bands individually market it, and that’s tough. Plus, albums sound better, and being 55, I’d like everything except vinyl to disappear. I’m dreaming, I know……

  15. After I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!

  16. I’m thinking of closing this page down completely, where comments are concerned. I deleted the five messages before your latest one, because they were nothing but spam. Thanks a lot, spammers!

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