See if this sounds familiar: You’re not sure where your U.S. road atlas is or if you even own one. It’s been so long since you licked a stamp, you’ve forgotten what it tastes like. You’ve seen more scrumptious two-minute videos in the past week than you’ve consulted a cookbook in the past year.
We all know technology is making things easier and less time-consuming, but it’s hard to believe how much our devices have transformed the way we live. Tasks and tools that once seemed routine now seem hopelessly out of date, and in only a few short years.
Example: Who would post an ad on the personals page of a local newspaper? Sounds so Victorian!
Here are some of those rituals that are no longer necessary in high-tech households. Teenagers may shrug, but if you’re 20 years or older, you’ll probably smile with nostalgia.
1. Memorize a phone number
Pop quiz: How many phone numbers do you know by heart? Some people don’t even know their spouse’s numbers. Before our smartphones automatically stored our friends’ contact information, we resorted to cocktail napkins to scrawl down numbers, for fear we wouldn’t find that listing in the phone book. How times have changed.
2. Use a phone book to find a company to do work around your house
Once upon a time, we felt perfectly comfortable flipping through the Yellow Pages and randomly calling a plumbing company to fix our pipes. Maybe we’d consult friends for a recommendation, but we often relied on trial-and-error. But consumer services like Angie’s List and Yelp have changed this game entirely. You can quickly read reviews of a local business, and if you like what you read, you can tap their number and automatically dial.
3. Park your used car on the street with a sign that says it’s for sale
Selling your car on your own is a pretty risky business. True, you stand to profit more, because you'll avoid a dealership's fees. But unless you're selling your vehicle to someone you know and trust, these transactions can get sticky and dangerous without someone to oversee it.
Craigslist started up more than 20 years ago, and it's still going strong. But if you want to sell your car, here are three sites that are better than Craigslist.
4. Figure out math in your head
Calculators have been around for a long time now, but few of us ever carried calculators with us to the grocery store. In contrast, pretty much everyone with a smartphone has it available to do double-digit multiplication, no matter where or when we need it.
5. Call a family member to ask where they are
Find My Friends is a radical app that helps family members and close friends pinpoint each other’s precise location. Note that these people have to sign up for the service, but customers can decide who can know where they are located.
6. Telling time by hands on a clock
Like cursive writing, analog clocks are teetering on extinction. Few people with smartphones bother with watches anymore, unless they’re fashion statements or fitness trackers. With digital clocks dominating our computers and hardware, those 12-numeral timepieces may become pure novelties. Even your trusted alarm clock has received a tech makeover.
7. Make photo albums
Purists still love their dark rooms, because chemicals and photo paper can be so rewarding for the patient photographer. But few people pine for the days of dropping off rolls of film at a one-hour photo shop. Instead of pasting five-by-seven snapshots into your faux-leather album, most people will prefer the ease of photo-sharing services like Flickr and Amazon Cloud.
8. Have a CD or record collection
Wasn’t it cool back in the day to walk into a shabby apartment and see those shelves of CDs? Wasn’t it a joy to flip through boxes of vinyl records? Well, the MP3 generation has transferred all those songs to a digital index. Turntables have seen a resurgence in popularity, but it’s hard to imagine CDs making a comeback.
9. Make mix tapes
There was something so personal about a mix tape. We spent hours finding the right song, then lining up two cassettes in order to copy a song. So many lovers cemented their relationships using a blank tape and a few dozen favorite albums. Now, you can throw together a digital playlist in seconds.
10. Call a theater to get movie times
Millions of people would rather buy a hit new movie on iTunes before it’s even finished in theaters. But if we do decide to drive all the way to the cinema and fork over $40 for two tickets and popcorn, there’s no need to call ahead and find out what time a movie is playing. The internet has everything we need.
In Google, you can often just type “movie times” and the search engine will list films based on your location.
11. Record your favorite programs on tape
All year, we’d wait for “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “The Wizard of Oz” to pop up on TV. When they did, we’d push a VHS tape into the machine and wait until the proper moment to press “record.” When TiVo emerged, it streamlined this process by making scheduled recordings even simpler.
Now, with streaming services, web archives, and easy-to-purchase downloads, the timing of a broadcast barely matters anymore.
12. Watch shows when they are broadcast live
In the same vein, we rarely have to sit in front of the television, eagerly waiting for a “major network event.” Services like Hulu and YouTube convert a huge amount of national television into a digital format, and local news stations log most of their important segments onto their websites.
13. Run to the store for a last minute gift
Curses! You forgot a Mother’s Day gift! Should you change your whole schedule so you can rush to the store and hurriedly pick something out? If you have Amazon Prime and live in an Amazon hub, there’s no need. You can order same-day delivery and have that gift curried to your front door.
It’s just one of the many benefits you probably didn’t know Amazon offers. Click here for more than 20 lesser-known perks that come with your Amazon Prime membership.
14. Cut things out of the newspaper
Many grandparents still love to buy newspapers, and when they find an article they like, they snip it out, put it in an envelope, and send that little slip of newsprint to a relative. “Thought you might find this interesting!” reads an accompanying note. But most of us don’t waste our time. Nearly every article in every major newspaper is archived online and can be instantly shared by email, social media, and even text message.
15. Send a handwritten letter
Don’t get me wrong: It’s still wonderful to receive a postcard from far away places. You might say that email, texting and Skype conversations have made handwritten letters even more special. But no one is forced to transcribe their thoughts by hand and drop those letters in a mailbox.
16. Looking up the spelling of words in the dictionary
Spellcheck is nearly as old as word processors, and many of us have grown up expecting Microsoft Word to underline our mistakes in red squiggles. But autocorrect takes this concept a step further, guessing what we actually intended to write and correcting our mistakes.
This can be handy for clumsy thumbs, but it can be embarrassing when autocorrect guesses wrong. Click here for five ways to take control of autocorrect.
17. Use a phone booth
Phone booths are so rare nowadays that you’d probably have an easier time just buying and activating a cheap cellphone. The last holdout may be your local airport, but even international travelers can usually nab a SIM card the moment they step off the plane.
18. Carry enough change to make a phone call
I remember my dad telling me, “Always carry a quarter because you never know when you’ll need it.” In a world of debit cards and Apple Pay, shoppers rarely have to carry cash anymore. So what happens when your phone is dead, there’s no one around and all you have is a phone booth? Luckily, most public phones in the U.S. are outfitted with credit card strips.
19. Use a travel agent
Travel agents can be essential for elaborate vacations, but for generic flights, services like Kayak and CheapFlights have completely transformed how we book our passage. You can compare hundreds of airlines and agencies in seconds for the best deal. If you’d like to save even more, use Google Flights to find the cheapest airfare.
20. Getting your old checks back from the bank every month
Oh, people still write checks, and physical paychecks are still routine methods of payment, but I doubt this antiquated practice will last much longer. Even depositing checks has become digitized, thanks to ATMs that scan the piece of paper and print a facsimile on your receipt.
Gone are the days of banks sending you old checks to jam into a filing cabinet. Thank goodness for that!
What other tech revolutions are changing your daily life? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.