The future is boring

July 25, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno

It used to be that if I met a girl I  would ask for her phone number. Sometimes the girl would give it to me. To give me her number, she would have to write it on a scrap of paper. I didn’t always have a pen in my pocket, or scraps of paper either, and there was always a moment of tension as she poked through her purse, looking for something with which to write. If she wanted to give me her number, and had a pen, and a scrap of paper, she would write it down and give it to me. Then, a few days later, I would call. Sometimes she would pick and up and sometimes she wouldn’t. If she didn’t, I would leave a message on the answering machine or with her roommate. And then the waiting came. And the wondering. If she didn’t call back that evening or the next day, I would have to wonder if she got the message. Maybe her roommate forgot to give it to her. Maybe the message was accidentally deleted. Maybe to roommate wrote my number down and stuck it on the refrigerator but, later, getting herself a snack, she opened the refrigerator and the piece of paper with my number on it fell down and slipped between that dirty crack between the fridge and the cabinets. Maybe I should call again. But then she might think I’m coming on too strong, like I’m a stalker or something. I mean, who does she think she is? Was my message weird? I’m going to call again…no, wait, that would be weird. What would I say if the machine picked up again? I’ll call her Thursday. There’s that party on Friday…I could make it seem casual or something. Like, “just to let you know, there’s this party tomorrow night, maybe I’ll see you there.” Something like that. My roommate better get hang up that phone. He’s been on there for, like, a half hour already. Whose mother has that much to say? What if she’s calling now? Christ, why didn’t we get call waiting?

Good times. But those are all gone now.

Wired has a list of a hundred other things that are gone now, too.

Audio-Visual Entertainment

Inserting a VHS tape into a VCR to watch a movie or to record something.

Super-8 movies and cine film of all kinds.

Playing music on an audio tape using a personal stereo. See what happens when you give a Walkman to today’s teenager.

The number of TV channels being a single digit. I remember it being a massive event when Britain got its fourth channel.

Standard-definition, CRT TVs filling up half your living room.

Rotary dial televisions with no remote control. You know, the ones where the kids were the remote control.

High-speed dubbing.

8-track cartridges.

Vinyl records. Even today’s DJs are going laptop or CD.

Betamax tapes.


Laserdisc: the LP of DVD.

Scanning the radio dial and hearing static between stations. (Digital tuners + HD radio b0rk this concept.)

Shortwave radio.

3-D movies meaning red-and-green glasses.

Watching TV when the networks say you should. Tivo and Sky+ are slowing killing this one.

That there was a time before ‘reality TV.’

Computers and Videogaming

Wires. OK, so they’re not gone yet, but it won’t be long

The scream of a modem connecting.

The buzz of a dot-matrix printer

5- and 3-inch floppies, Zip Discs and countless other forms of data storage.

Using jumpers to set IRQs.


Terminals accessing the mainframe.

Screens being just green (or orange) on black.

Tweaking the volume setting on your tape deck to get a computer game to load, and waiting ages for it to actually do it.

Daisy chaining your SCSI devices and making sure they’ve all got a different ID.

Counting in kilobytes.

Wondering if you can afford to buy a RAM upgrade.

Blowing the dust out of a NES cartridge in the hopes that it’ll load this time.

Turning a PlayStation on its end to try and get a game to load.


Having to delete something to make room on your hard drive.

Booting your computer off of a floppy disk.

Recording a song in a studio.

Read the rest here.


2 Responses to “The future is boring”

  1. Moshe Says:

    This reminds me of a conversation I once had with Terence Duvall where, drunk, he bemoaned the fact that today’s teenagers will never get to know their friends’ parents. His reasoning, which I agree with, was that it used to be that when you called John’s house and asked to speak to John, John’s mother or father would often answer. They would exchange pleasantries with you on the phone, asking you how your mother/father was doing and what was new. You usually talked for a few minutes, and that was that. These conversations tended to have a cumulative effect, where 3 minutes 4 times a week for 3 years somehow made you feel very close to your friends’ parents. Now, with the ability to just call John’s cellular telephone from your cellular telephone, the parents are cut out of the loop, and today’s youth probably don’t have real occasion to speak with them. They may go over the house for dinner occasionally, or be invited for some event, but without the cumulative effect of a thousand instances of small-talk, you never reach the same level of intimacy or comfort.

    So, I think you should add to this list that today no teenager would understand that old commercial for Stove Top Stuffing.

  2. urbesque Says:

    can we make these commercials? can we make them in an 80’s style house? with a station wagon parked outside and a ferris beuler poster in the rompus room?

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