Question: What have today’s kids never seen?
Answer: I was recently contemplating all of the things that today’s young rugrats have missed out on, but which were so much a part of my youth. Now, I’m not exactly a senior citizen, although I have been accused of being so old that I rode to school on a dinosaur and took notes on a stone tablet. But things that I grew up with don’t really exist anymore. Think about how some of these things used to be a real part of your life, but are a total mystery to young people.
For instance, most kids have never seen a record player or turntable because CD’s were introduced when they were toddlers. Vinyl records and 8-track tapes are something they might find in a box in the attic, but they have no idea what they are.
They’ve never inserted a VHS tape into a VCR (let alone a Beta Max), and most have probably never even physically gone to a Blockbuster to rent a film. Remember when we had to wait for the television network premiere to watch a movie, which was usually a couple of years after its run at the theater. They consider the special effects of Star Wars to be totally cheesy and hearing “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father” is meaningless since they’ve already seen Episode III, so it’s no big surprise.
Kids have no memory of when TV’s only went up to channel 13 (no cable, satellite or dish) and had rotary dials with no remotes. When I was young, my parents used me as the remote since I was the youngest and had to get up to turn the channel. There was no reality TV other than the nightly news, and everything was in black and white (not just the old stuff on TVLand or Nick at Nite).
Remember rotary dial telephones? Nowadays, kids will never have the singular experience of twisting the curly handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone. Some pay phones still actually exist (believe it or not, there are two of them on my block), but phone booths are definitely in the past. Yellow and White Pages only exist online and are rarely needed anyway as phone numbers are stored in phone memory. And there can never be a surprise call anymore due to caller ID.
Computer technology has advanced so much in the last 30 years. Typewriters are a thing of the past. Kids will never have to delete documents to make room on their hard drives. They will never have to boot up their computers off a floppy disk. Spam is no longer just a mediocre meat product.
They will never have the experience of flipping through the encyclopedia to get tidbits of information for a term paper or use a road atlas to get from A to B. Newspapers and magazines are accessible online and don’t have to be made from dead trees. They will never use the card catalogue at the library (remember the Dewey Decimal system) and actually don’t need to bother with libraries at all now that they have a Kindle. Kids have no clue that film used to be put into a camera, then sent away to be processed and a week later (unless you paid a small fortune for two day processing), having the photos come back to you via snail mail.
So tonight at bedtime, remember that Jay Leno hasn’t always been the host of The Tonight Show (little ones have no clue who Johnny Carson was). And when you’re starting to drift off to sleep, remember the sounds of your youth – the scream of a modem connecting, the buzz of a dot-matrix printer, the static between stations when scanning the radio dial and the TV blaring “Where’s the beef?,” “I’d walk a mile for a Camel,” and “de plane, Boss, de plane.” Ah, those were the days!