Things Babies Born in 2011 Will Never Know

As Peter, Paul and Mary used to sing so well … “The times, they are a chaaaannnnggggiiiiinnnnggg.”  I actually saw them in concert once.  Almost didn’t because my friend who had the tickets left them in his jeans and his mom ran them through the washer.  But that’s another story for another day. 

We’ve had several posts in the past dealing with change – thought I’d ramp it up a bit and provide a list that a friend sent me from Yahoo Finance of things babies born in 2011 will never know.  It’s kind of sad in some instances. 

1) Video tape: Starting this year, the news stories produced at Yahoo Finance Money Talks have all been shot, edited, and distributed to TV stations without ever being on any kind of tape. Not only that, the tape-less broadcast camera they use today offers much higher quality than anything that could have been imagined 10 years ago — and cost less than the lens on the camera we were using previously.

2) Travel agents: While not dead today, this profession is one of many that’s been decimated by the Internet. When it’s time for their honeymoon, will those born in 2011 be able to find one?

3) The separation of work and home: When you’re carrying an email-equipped computer in your pocket, it’s not just your friends who can find you — so can your boss. For kids born this year, the wall between office and home will be blurry indeed.

4) Books, magazines, and newspapers: Like video tape, words written on dead trees are on their way out. Sure, there may be books — but for those born today, stores that exist solely to sell them will be as numerous as record stores are now.

5) Movie rental stores: You actually got in your car and drove someplace just to rent a movie?

6) Watches: Maybe as quaint jewelry, but the correct time is on your smartphone, which is pretty much always in your hand.

7) Paper maps: At one time these were available free at every gas station. They’re practically obsolete today, and the next generation will probably have to visit a museum to find one.

8) Wired phones: Why would you pay $35 every month to have a phone that plugs into a wall? For those born today, this will be a silly concept.

9) Long distance: Thanks to the Internet, the days of paying more to talk to somebody in the next city, state, or even country are limited.

10) Newspaper classifieds: The days are gone when you have to buy a bunch of newsprint just to see what’s for sale.

11) Dial-up Internet: While not everyone is on broadband, it won’t be long before dial-up Internet goes the way of the plug-in phone.

12) Encyclopedias: Imagine a time when you had to buy expensive books that were outdated before the ink was dry. This will be a nonsense term for babies born today.

13) Forgotten friends: Remember when an old friend would bring up someone you went to high school with, and you’d say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about them!” The next generation will automatically be in touch with everyone they’ve ever known even slightly via Facebook.

14) Forgotten anything else: Kids born this year will never know what it was like to stand in a bar and incessantly argue the unknowable. Today the world’s collective knowledge is on the computer in your pocket or purse. And since you have it with you at all times, why bother remembering anything?

15) The evening news: The news is on 24/7. And if you’re not home to watch it, that’s OK — it’s on the smartphone in your pocket.

16) CDs: First records, then 8-track, then cassette, then CDs — replacing your music collection used to be an expensive pastime. Now it’s cheap(er) and as close as the nearest Internet connection.

17) Film cameras: For the purist, perhaps, but for kids born today, the word “film” will mean nothing. In fact, even digital cameras — both video and still — are in danger of extinction as our pocket computers take over that function too.

18) Yellow and White Pages: Why in the world would you need a 10-pound book just to find someone?

19) Catalogs: There’s no need to send me a book in the mail when I can see everything you have for sale anywhere, anytime. If you want to remind me to look at it, send me an email.

20) Fax machines: Can you say “scan,” “.pdf” and “email?”

21) One picture to a frame: Such a waste of wall/counter/desk space to have a separate frame around each picture. Eight gigabytes of pictures and/or video in a digital frame encompassing every person you’ve ever met and everything you’ve ever done — now, that’s efficient. Especially compared to what we used to do: put our friends and relatives together in a room and force them to watch what we called a “slide show” or “home movies.”

22) Wires: Wires connecting phones to walls? Wires connecting computers, TVs, stereos, and other electronics to each other? Wires connecting computers to the Internet? To kids born in 2011, that will make as much sense as an electric car trailing an extension cord.

23) Hand-written letters: For that matter, hand-written anything. When was the last time you wrote cursive? In fact, do you even know what the word “cursive” means? Kids born in 2011 won’t — but they’ll put you to shame on a tiny keyboard.

24) Talking to one person at a time: Remember when it was rude to be with one person while talking to another on the phone? Kids born today will just assume that you’re supposed to use texting to maintain contact with five or six other people while pretending to pay attention to the person you happen to be physically next to.

25) Retirement plans: Yes, Johnny, there was a time when all you had to do was work at the same place for 20 years and they’d send you a check every month for as long as you lived. In fact, some companies would even pay your medical bills, too!

26) Mail: What’s left when you take the mail you receive today, then subtract the bills you could be paying online, the checks you could be having direct-deposited, and the junk mail you could be receiving as junk email? Answer: A bloated bureaucracy that loses billions of taxpayer dollars annually.

27) Commercials on TV: They’re terrifically expensive, easily avoided with DVRs, and inefficiently target mass audiences. Unless somebody comes up with a way to force you to watch them — as with video on the Internet — who’s going to pay for them?

28) Commercial music radio: Smartphones with music-streaming programs like Pandora are a better solution that doesn’t include ads screaming between every song.

29) Hiding: Not long ago, if you didn’t answer your home phone, that was that — nobody knew if you were alive or dead, much less where you might be. Now your phone is not only in your pocket, it can potentially tell everyone — including advertisers — exactly where you are.

So – what do you think?  Will you mourn – or are you already mourning the loss of some of the things on this on this list?  Or do you welcome it all with open arms?  I’m someone who remembers black and white TV, TV without a remote, 45 and LP records … well, I could date myself further but what’s the point in that?  The thing is I still get nostalgic when I think about watching the mail box and waiting for a letter, the J.C. Penney’s Christmas catalogue arriving, and I do so love to sit down at night with my hubby and relax over the evening news.

The times, they really are a changing.  So … What are you going to miss?  What are you looking forward to? 


About cindygerard

Cindy Gerard is a New York Times best-selling author of action packed romantic suspense novels. Learn more about Cindy at
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19 Responses to Things Babies Born in 2011 Will Never Know

  1. Interesting… I will miss hand-written letters because they just seem to be more “personal” than emails. I won’t miss the Yellow Pages. For #25, I think you mean pension plans and not retirement plans.

    • cindy gerard says:

      Hi Jackson
      I agree to some extent on the ‘letters’. So enjoy getting a hand written card and feel like I’ve done something very personal when I write one!

  2. Helen Brenna says:

    This is interesting, Cindy. I just cleaned out a closet a couple weeks ago and recycled all my phone books and atlases, and I won’t miss them for a second.

    The only one I mourn is CDs. If that’s true and they really do disappear, then that makes me sad. I still buy them. I’m a deep track music listener, so buying individual songs on iTunes doesn’t work for me. And I don’t own an iPod or any digital music player. But I guess CDs are bound to go the way of the book.

  3. michele says:

    I can’t agree that books will go the way of the dinosaurs. We will ALWAYS have books. They may become a little rarer, but consumers will demand them.

    I always think that the art of cooking and a home-cooked meal will not be common. How many of our kids (or grandkids) have any idea how to whip up some meat, potatoes and gravy(homemade, not from a packet)? My daughter has a few homemade meals under her belt, but not a lot. That’s my fault for not teaching her more. And we mothers are more busy and have less time pass along that art. Restaurants and packaged meals will become the norm instead of treats. So sad.

  4. cindy gerard says:

    Helen, I agree. I find so many hidden gems on full tracks – I often wonder why they weren’t released as singles.

    Michele – so true on the home cooking. Our daughter in law – don’t know how she does it – but she does a lot of baking from scratch and includes the kids. It’s so cool … and yes, may soon be a lost art :o(

  5. When face-to-face human contact becomes obsolete, I think we’re doomed. If these predictions are true kids born this year will be starving for more face time, less Facebook time. Sure, the internet is lovely, GPS, On Demand, etc. But going to high school online? That’s sad. Substituting Wikipedia for Britannica? Who writes Wikipedia? Yes, it’s a good quick reference–a starting place–but I would never cite it in a debate. A house without books? Say it ain’t so.

    I would love to see commercials become obsolete. 6-yr old girls asking about erections lasting more than 4 hours and whether they’ll have to go to the doctor for that makes me queasy, not to mention what wow-de-dow gift that bride got that made her friends’ hair stick straight out in back.

  6. cindy gerard says:

    LOL on the ‘questions commercials spur from kids, Kathy. i am so with you on that one. And I too worry about the loss of face to face interaction. i was on a bus one day last summer filled with a cross section of ages. Lots of teens included. almost EVERY one of them had their heads down, texting or reading a text. Absolutely no commo or eye contact with anyone around them. It was a little scary.

  7. Here’s some good news: My granddaughters are learning to write in cursive, and they love it. They practice on every stray piece of paper in the house. The younger one loves to bake with Nana. The older one is learning to sew. She wants to make clothes by hand. They read out loud to us every night from books they choose to share. The 8-yr-old is into Harry Potter, and the copies she brings home from the school library (after being on a waiting list) are lovingly dogeared.

    If I were a tree and the Ax Men came after me, I would beg them to turn me into books.

  8. Keri Ford says:

    heh. read this heading and first thought was VHS tape. I miss those! DVDs–gah! a pain most times. Rarely does a DVD come without a ton of ads on the front. And only some of the time can you fastfoward or skip straight to the main menu on those.

    Also? my boy is just rough on stuff. VHS tapes can last a childhood so long as you don’t pull the tape out.

  9. lois greiman says:

    Can’t wait to get rid of all the wires for the electronics. And dialup…can’t go fast enough. But I think we need to figure out some way to promote personal interaction…especially between parents and children…there’s never enough time. And all the time-savers in the world don’t seem to be helping that.

    • cindy gerard says:

      Lois – those of us in the boonies will see the total wireless last, don’t you think? i still can’t get hi speed but DSL is a huge improvement over dial up :o)

  10. kylie brant says:

    Yes, I’ve seen this list. I’m going to go out on a limb and say paper books will still have a real presence throughout my lifetime! And the phone book thing…yes they are stopping publishing them but you can no longer look that info up for free on the Internet. So it’s going to get expensive to find people!

  11. Bill Allen says:

    Good list, Cindy. These things come up all the time at work, where I am the “old man” of my group of twenty-something programmers.

    Sometimes the best stuff is lost on new generations. I was watching American Idol a few weeks ago (yes, I admit it), and the 15-year-old contestant admitted he had never heard the Beatles song he was required to sing. Why would he? He no longer needs to wait through twenty songs he doesn’t know before they play one he does on the radio.

    A few years ago I put the words “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” in one of my books. I was shocked when my kid proof-readers asked me what it meant. Why watch an old movie like the Wizard of Oz when you can choose anything that appeals to you from the movie queue?

    Makes you wonder what great things we missed out on. Ah, to be able to use actual newspaper in the outhouse when it’s freezing outside.

  12. I find it amusing that we don’t have to argue some point of fact anymore–we just look it up! My parents are having a hard time adjusting to today’s world. While my mom used a computer when she worked, once she retired she had to interest in a personal computer at home. They find they can’t make reservations for airline flights or big trips without having to pay extra booking fees if they try to do it via telephone.

    I did think the kid not knowing the Beatles song was a little weird. I’m trying to remember which song it was, but it seemed as if you’d have at least heard it at the mall or on an elevator or something!

  13. Betina says:

    I have really mixed feelings about all of this. I LOVE progress, but I do hate having to give up the machines and gadgets I’ve become comfortable using, just because somebody has something “new ” out. And as for Fax machines. . . they’ll be around for some time to come. Health care and business rely heavily on them and there’s nothing (as yet) that can truly replace them. Yes, PDF’s and electronic records– but we’re a long way from making them the standard and from using them easily. Faxes will be around a while longer. I mourn the loss of CD’s! I LOVED those jewel boxes with their fabulous and intriguing covers, bought quite a few based on the covers and copy. Shopping for music online– while more conveninent– just isn’t the same as picking up the CD’s and looking them over. I have an I-Pod and have even transfered most of my I-pod music to my phone!!! But I don’t have the same feeling about it that I did when I would go out to Sam Goody’s and browse and listen with headphones. Sigh. I’m feeling a little like a dinosaur.

    But then, I really like my electronic reader. Fiction books on e-readers are great. I want a color one, though, so I can enjoy the covers in color!

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