Doug's recent post about cable television got me to thinking about the other things on their way out the door over the course of my lifetime. The standard ones have been written about ad-blow-chunks-ium (the death of the American newspaper, Main Street USA, personal interaction), so I won't waste my time or anyone else's. I've started to notice in my personal reflections that I'm falling for that cliche of age in thinking that things used to be better than they are now. Of course the problem is that things weren't actually better, I was just used to them. I call customer service now, and talking to a voice recognition computer or the guy who just barely passed his English competency exam and I wonder what happened to customer service. But customer service always sucked...almost everywhere. Customer service reps never understood the problem...even if they understood the words coming out of my mouth. Back in 2000, I spoke to an American customer service rep, and their supervisor, every month for a year before MCI (so it goes) finally quit charging my credit card for a service I signed up for, then immediately cancelled. If this is almost 30, I worry about myself at 50. /end personal introspection/
So I was cleaning out the guest room a while ago, and I came across a box of zip and floppy discs (so it goes). Out of more than thirty discs, I recovered data from fewer than ten. Who can remember what was lost to the click of death? Now take my twenty-some useless discs and multiply that data by everyone who's ever had a hard-drive crash, every word processing document written in a now-obsolete program, and every accidentally formatted drive or disc since 197?. Pour one out for our homies in data decay. Technology marches ever onward, and we can't carve all our knowledge in stone. Libraries burn down and cds get scratched, but now we have the ether. I'm kind of looking forward to the day when I can have everything that anyone's ever written accessible from a bluetooth chip implanted to display on my retina and when I never have to have a disc of any kind.
Culturally, books are still going strong and music will survive the RIAA, as movies will the MPAA. Poetry has lost a lot of relevence except as lyrics, and the medium has been rather exhausted in a lot of ways. Ditto painting, but folks will never stop needing something to put on their wall, so I guess it's safe. Opera had better watch out, though. I've been to exactly two operas in my life, a tally I expect to hold up through however much time I have left. Some of the music will stay in our cultural consciousness, but as theater it's really not competing any longer. Quick, name three opera stars under 40. So it goes.
The one that I'll be happiest to see go gently into that good night is in the category of TV. The standard TV formula has had staying power. You have procedural dramas and hospital dramas and lawyer dramas. You have forgettable 3 camera sit-coms. You have national news, reality and gameshows. You even have unbelievably poor daytime programming. None of those are going anywhere. Now, consider this: you want to know what the weather is right now...what do you do? I look at the bottom of my Firefox browser to the weatherfox add-on. What do I do if I want to know about local election results? I check an online newspaper or the county election division's website. How do I get 100% of my news on what's happening in any area in my city? From the internet and the local news breaks during drive time on NPR. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but I can't wait to see the final death of local TV news. No, I won't be tuning in to your special report at 11! No, your newest weather radar gimmick (or person) is not amazing! No, I do not want to hear reactions from the South Side!
I'm making an effort not to be upset when things change. Embrace the future, it's the only thing we have left.