Don't Look Back
- Something Is Sure To Be Gaining On You
by Pamela J.
I am obsolete.
You may be too.
I recently read a list of rapidly
All of which are essential to my life.
The list was compiled by AARP, the American
Association of Retired Persons.
AARP members are still employed, engaged and
vital, but lets be direct: these are people
who appreciate the irony in the brand names Fossil
and Sag Harbor.
So when one is
obsolete by AARP standards, attention must be
One of the
soon-to-be-gone items is regular mail. Lots of us
enjoy the daily delivery, and for those fortunate
enough to receive mail at their doorstep,
greeting the carrier. Sadly, my mailbox sits a
distance from my house and is filled anonymously
by someone extremely skilled at pushing slightly-too-large
parcels into the available space. So for me, some
of the charm of regular mail has already gone,
but it is still nice to retrieve an envelope
addressed by hand.
us to another vanishing item: cursive writing. It
is no longer taught, and like hieroglyphics, may
soon require specially trained interpreters. At
one time, specialists could discern information
about the writer by inspecting the rhythm of
loops and swirls, like fingerprints. Which would
make ink the forensic forerunner of bodily fluids
(and I say, highly preferable). Beautiful
handwriting is a marvel, and it is a pleasure to
see a familiar hand on paper. I know the sender
at a glance, and anticipate the opening and
reading in a way that electronic communication
will never inspire.
me: A few computerish items made AARPs list.
For example, physical media will soon leave us,
which is tragic for those of us who have only
just learned what physical media are.
Nevertheless, CDs, DVDs and all of the other
devices on which information is stored will soon
be like eight-track tapes and typewriters.
Similarly, experts say that in a decade or so we
will save everything to the cloud, a virtual
server, and access it through phones. What could
possibly go wrong with that plan? I dont
want personal information floating around in the
ether, to be read by a device with buttons that
are only visible with glasses I can never find.
If it is important, I want an original and a copy,
at least one of which is on paper. Then all I
have to do is locate my glasses.
Time brings a
degree of obsolescence to us all. Soon, those
cloud-dwellers who hold their world in the palms
of their hands will hear the footsteps of those
with even shorter histories and newer ideas. The
trick is not to be so enamored of the past that
we miss the benefits of the present. Obsolescence
is a byproduct of our experience, it need
not be our epitaph.
of this essay was published on NewsWorks.org, the
news and culture website of Philadelphia public
broadcaster WHYY. http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/speak-easy-archive/item/43706-learning-to-accept-unplanned-obsolescence.