Most of the seniors who are graduating college in 2016 were born in 1994, which many point to as the year the Internet started to make major in-roads into people’s home with services like America Online, Prodigy and Compuserve providing gateways for not only the computer geek, but also the average Joe to connect their computers with others around the world for the first time.
This means, for the first time in the history of the world, we have an educated generation entering the workforce who don’t remember a world before the Internet. This generation doesn’t know what it’s like to have to say “Where did I see that actor before?” because they can just look it up. They don’t have to wonder the mileage between their home and New York City, because not only can they look it up, they can find the shortest route.
Google estimates that it handles 40,000 requests for information every second, or roughly 3.5 billion searches per day. What was the world like before it’s residents had 3.5 billion less pieces of information every day? What was it like before viral videos, clever memes and an endless supply of Top 10 lists? These new college graduates will never know.
There are some things the Internet has killed over time and other things that continue to die a slow death. So, for those who don’t remember a world before the Internet and those who lament what the Internet may have changed we present 11 things that the Internet has killed.
Back in the day, your teacher would tell you that you couldn’t use an encyclopedia as a source for your report, the way many do the same thing with Wikipedia. For those who don’t have a dusty old set of books that look similar to one another that nobody ever pulls off the shelf, let us explain what an encyclopedia is. It’s Wikipedia if you printed it all out, except it had far less errors and you could generally believe the information in them. Every family had a set and many people made good livings going door-to-door selling them. There were briefly CR-ROMs of encyclopedias, but once the Internet hit homes, it was time to sell your stock in Encyclopedia Britannica or World Book.
10. Travel Agencies
If you were going to take a trip anytime before 1995, the first step was to visit a travel agent to see what your options were. You would sit down with an agent who would present you with catalogs showing different vacation options. After deciding what you wanted, the agent would get behind a giant computer and spend 10 minutes trying to figure out the best flight options for you. With the Internet, the travel agent and therefore, the travel agencies, have become obsolete. When a traveller can do all of the research online and go directly to the airlines’ websites, there is no sense is paying extra money for someone else to hit a few buttons for you.
Despite the fact that network television developed their news divisions in the 1950s and 24-hour news stations came into being in the 1980s, newspapers were the go-to source for information of what was happening around the world, and in hometowns for the length of the 20th Century. Many cities and towns had two newspapers, one in the morning and one in the evening. As people started to look toward the Internet for news in the late 1990s, newspapers started slowly closing down. Catering to an older demographic that is dying off and unable to make a connection with the necessary amount of younger readers to attract advertising and remain viable. Unfortunately, the ability to trust news has also disappeared as newspapers have, since it’s so easy for anybody to claim anything on the Internet.
There was once a time where if you wanted to see what that hunky guy two seats over from you in History class looked like with his shirt off or what that sexy girl sitting in front of you in Math looked like in a bikini, you had to find out which beach they were going to that weekend and decide if the potential stalking charges were worth it. Today, the work is done for you, as everybody posts Instagram photos of themselves enjoying the beach. Back in the teenage comedy movies of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, there was almost always a scene of either a group of boys or girls trying to break into the opposite gender’s locker room. In 2016, there’s no need to break in when the people in the locker room are the ones taking naked pictures of themselves and sharing them with everyone.
7. Music & Book Stores
People often lament the changes in MTV over the years, usually pointing at the fact the channel barely ever plays a music video anymore. Back when videos were king on that channel, the only way you were going to get to hear the songs when you wanted to was to tape it off the radio or go to the music store and buy it. When you wanted to buy a new book to read, you had to get in the car and drive to the mall where the bookstore was. These days, iTunes and Amazon are the goliaths of an online world that delivers media to you with the click of a button. Even if you don’t order the ebook, or prefer a CD to an MP3, you still don’t have to get off the couch. Cool people used to work at record stores and smart people used to work at book stores. We wonder where those people work now.
Rarely does a week go by that you don’t read about another company with a security breach and thousands of people having their personal information put at risk. People who worry about their information falling into the wrong hands need to realize that the moment you put anything onto the internet, it’s out there forever, and if you don’t read the fine print, many companies will sell your information. Two good ways to find out what the world knows about you is to try typing your main telephone number into a search engine and getting your credit report from one of the sites that offer for free. The only 100 percent guaranteed way to maintain your privacy is to stay off the Internet all together.
5. Writing and Mailing Letters
When you think about e-mail, it really is an amazing thing. Within just a couple of seconds, one can type out a few sentences, attach a JPEG, click a button and somebody on the other side of the world get those words and that pic in front of them. A transaction that could potentially take weeks just 30 years ago now takes less time than the average set of commercials during prime time. The act of sitting down and writing your thoughts on multiple pieces of paper, putting them into an envelope, addressing it, finding a mailbox and waiting for a response seems antiquated in our instant gratification society, but if you talk to older people, they miss the intimacy that letter writing brought to communication, an intimacy that’s likely gone forever.
4. Minding Our Own Business
Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp have allowed each of us to share anything about ourselves we wish, and to publicly comment on everything under the sun. Everyone has always had that friend who either over-shares details about their lives or feels the need to comment on everyone else’s and social media via the Internet has given this person a platform like never before. You can really see the generational and technological differences between the generations if you see a grandmother at dinner with her teenage granddaughter. The younger family member doesn’t think twice about taking pictures of herself and her food, then reporting how good or bad it was via her phone. The grandmother came from a generation that would never do that kind of thing.
3. Adult Entertainment Industry
Ironically, the adult entertainment industry is usually one of the first to embrace new technology, but in this case, a new means of delivering their product spelled disaster to many of their other avenues. Similar to how home video largely exterminated the adult movie theater, the days of most consumers purchasing videos disappeared as streaming and downloading services became available. When there is so much material for free, it’s hard to convince people to pay for it. The Internet also opened up the opportunity for amateur filmmakers to create their own films, which lessened the need for professional actors and actresses. We’re still seeing the fallout of the Internet’s influence in this area as even what was seen as the most bulletproof of adult media, Playboy magazine, has had to revamp how it does business.
2. The Need to Attend Class
College used to mean waking up in a cold room that was shared with someone you barely knew, throwing on a baseball cap and trudging across a beautiful campus to sit in a class while a professor lectured. Many still go the traditional route, but online learning has exploded in the last decade because of the Internet. Students can literally sit at their kitchen table and take classes 24 hours per day at schools around the world. There are mixed reviews on what is missed from an experiential perspective of doing college through a laptop, but there’s no denying that it’s allowed options for students who would have never had them before our world went online.
1. Telephone Books
If you watch television shows from anytime before 2000, you’ll see people sometimes holding large plastic devices up to their heads, talking into one end and listening with the other. These are known as home telephones. There was also a version of these in public that you could pay a quarter to use known as pay phones. The Internet didn’t kill these things, the cell phone did. What the Internet did kill was the book of telephone numbers we used when we needed to find a number we didn’t have. Unless you had an expensive home phone that could save a couple of phone numbers, you didn’t just have everyone’s name in your phone and you couldn’t just text a friend if you were missing a number. Telephone books were made up of white pages for residential numbers and yellow pages for business numbers. These days, it’s all about the web pages, not the paper ones.