See if these sound 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 Tasks and tools that once were routine now seem hopelessly out of date, after only a few years. Example: Who would post an ad on the personals page of a local newspaper? It sounds so Victorian!
Here are some rituals that are no longer necessary in high-tech households. Teenagers may shrug, but if you’re 20 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 number. Before our smartphones stored our friends’ contact information, we resorted to
scrawling numbers on cocktail napkins, fearing we wouldn’t them 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. 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 the phone number to “dial.”
3. Park your used car on the street with a sign that says it’s for sale
Selling a car on your own is a pretty risky business. True, you stand to profit more, because you'll avoid dealer 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 them. 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. Do math in your head
Calculators have been around for a long time, but few of us ever carried one to the grocery store. But now pretty much everyone with a smartphone has one available to do double-digit
multiplication, no matter where or when we need it. There’s even an app called Photomath that can solve any equation just by taking a picture with your smartphone’s camera.
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. Click here for ways to really take advantage of your smartphone’s GPS capabilities.
6. Tell time by the 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 gotten a tech makeover. Click here for three apps that monitor your sleep cycle and wake you when you feel most rested.
7. Make photo albums
Purists still love their dark rooms, because chemicals and photo paper can be so rewarding for patient photographers, but few people pine for the days when they dropped off rolls of film at a one-hour photo shop. Instead of pasting 5x7 snapshots into your faux-leather album, most people prefer the ease of photo-sharing services like Flickr and Amazon Cloud.
8. Own 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. Vinyl records and 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 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 watch a hit new movie on iTunes before it’s even finished in theaters, but when we do decide to drive to the theater and fork over $40 for two tickets and popcorn, there’s no need to call to find out when the movie starts. 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, and when it 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 hardly matters anymore.
12. Watch shows when they are broadcast
In the same vein, we rarely have to sit in front of the TV 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 brought 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 with a “Thought you might find this interesting!” note and send it to a relative. 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 or text message.
15. Send a handwritten letter
Don’t get me wrong: It’s still wonderful to receive a postcard from faraway places. You might say that email, texting and Skype conversations have made handwritten letters even more special. But no one is forced to handwrite his thoughts and drop a letter in a mailbox anymore.
16. Look up how to spell a word
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 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 need 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 transformed how we book our passage. You can compare hundreds of airlines and agencies in seconds to find the best deal. If you’d like to save even more, use Google Flights to find the cheapest airfare. Here are five ways Google Flights can really help you save as long as you’re flexible with your travel schedule.
20. Get 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 practice will last much longer. Even depositing checks has become digitized, thanks to ATMs that scan them 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 to 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.
Copyright 2017, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.