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Things I used to do that have now become obsolete

So many things we used to do twenty or thirty years ago have been rendered obsolete by the internet and smartphones.

    1. Wear a wristwatch

    Before everyone had smartphones, we had to rely on agreed-upon meeting places and times to get in touch with people. You couldn't just call someone and ask, "Where are you?" You just had to trust that they would meet you at a certain place at a certain time. And all smartphones tell you the time as well.

    2. Fax documents at work

    I've been working as a patent examiner since 2006. As part of my job, whenever an attorney requests a meeting with me, I give them two options to send me an agenda: by fax or by email. Back in 2006, I it was almost 100% faxes. Today, it's almost 100% emails. In fact, I don't recall receiving any faxes from attorneys for at least the past three years.

    3. Mail handwritten letters to friends

    I moved around a lot as a kid. No, my dad wasn't in the military. He was just always chasing jobs across the country to increase his salary. So as a result, I went to many different schools in many different states, making a few good friends in between. And since it was before the internet, I had to write letters by hand and send them to my friends through the mail to keep in touch. I imagine snail-mail pen-pals aren't really a thing anymore, since now we have email.

    4. Attach a stack of store loyalty cars to my keychain

    My keychain used to have a stack of loyalty cards for different grocery stores and retailers attached. Now it's bare. I don't even know why I keep a keychain anymore. Every loyalty card is either entered at the register with my phone number, or a barcode stored on my phone. In fact, I only ever use three keys: my car key, my house key, and my PO Box key.

    5. Browse book stores

    I used to enjoy hanging out at Barnes & Noble (and earlier than that, the now defunct Borders Books). Sometimes it would be the highlight of my weekend, sipping a coffee and browsing brand new books at the bookstore. These days, my whole book collection is stored on my phone. They opened a huge flagship Barnes & Noble store nearby a few years ago and I got all excited, but I rarely ever go there. It just lost its luster.

    6. Go to the mall

    As a kid, my favorite part of the weekend was when my parents took us to the mall. They would give me and my brother $3 and tell us to meet at a certain spot in the mall after two or three hours (see my idea #1). Then we'd spend a couple of hours browsing all the awesome stores in the mall. We'd use $1 to buy a drink, then either blow the other $2 at the arcade or save it up to buy a book (usually $5 back then), board game (typically $10-$20), or toy (I think a GI Joe figure would be like $4).

    These days, I have a car and a nice shopping mall within 10 minutes of my house, but I never go. I guess Amazon is just a more fun shopping experience these days.

    7. Commute to work

    Okay, I guess I'm privileged here. Due to the nature of my office job, I've been working remotely at home since 2009, long before COVID-19 made it a thing. But for more and more people these days, commutes are becoming obsolete.

    8. Carry a paper and pencil wherever I go

    Okay, I used to be a big time nerd. I was the super skinny kid who wore glasses and carried a small pad and pencil in my pocket so I could jot down cool ideas. These days, I wear contact lenses and carry a smartphone where I can jot down cool ideas. And I'm not skinny anymore. In fact, these days I sport a fashionable dad-bod.

    9. Keep maps in my car

    "G*d d**n it f*****g s*n of a b***h!" my dad used to shout, before angrily pulling off to the side of the road at night. Then he would open the glove box and pull out a map and flashlight. Then he would mumble something like, "we passed mile marker 22... Interstate 75 is here... I think we're here..."

    Ah, the days before people had GPS systems in their cars and on their phones. These days, I have not a map in my car.

    10. Carry coins

    Twenty years ago, you would have heard me coming by the sound of the jingling coins in my pocket. I never got in the habit of having a "coin jar." Instead, I would just carry all my coins everywhere and use them whenever I bought something. That way, I would never have more than $1 a coins.

    These days, it's a rarity for me to get any coins. When I get them, I don't know what to do with them, since I almost never pay for things in cash. In fact, there's a small pile of coins on my desk that have been sitting there for over a year. I just have no use for them (give me bitcoins instead!).

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