7 Things We've Lost—and Gained—in the Internet Age

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It wasn’t too long ago that we collected VHS tapes, dialed an operator for assistance and visited a travel agent to book vacation plans. These days, practically all of one’s needs can be fulfilled easier and faster through technological advances. Here are seven common things we’ve abandoned—and gained—in the Internet age. Like a trip down memory lane…

  1. Phonebooks
    Goodbye Ma Bell, hello Mr. Google! Gone are the days of pulling out the phone book to look up a business—or personal—phone number. Today, we simply Google a restaurant (note verb usage) or venue for quick answers—and can even reserve a table or place an order online. Looking up people has never been easier—you can search by phone number, address or name—there’s almost no excuses these days to not keep in touch!
  2. Restaurant Reviews
    Do you recall perusing your local newspaper for a critic’s review of a restaurant before making a reservation? Or purchasing a local restaurant guide? Now, restaurant reviews are available everywhere online. Peer reviews on various websites such as Yelp and Citysearch can offer a patron’s perspective of the restaurant, while venerable names such as Zagat have increased their online presence to provide access to critics’ reviews.
  3. Movie Show Times
    Not too long ago, if you wanted to see a movie at a theater you’d have to call the theater, open a newspaper or drive to the theater beforehand to find out at which time your favorite movie was playing. Today, it’s easy to get show times online on a computer or a phone. But it doesn’t end there—movie websites and smart phones can provide reviews (both critics’ and peers’), trailers and content information in instantly. You can also purchase your ticket online, without having to wait in line, giving you more time to stock up on a bin of popcorn and some tasty treats.
  4. Landlines
    Speaking of phones, the basic landline phone is no longer enough—and for a growing number of people, no longer used. The advent of the smart phone has placed computer power at users’ fingertips and changed our concept of what a telephone does. In addition to making calls, standard features on mobile phones these days include texting, cameras and video chatting via Skype or other chatting software. Plus thousands (and growing) numbers of apps for just about anything you can think of, including GPS software to help you navigate through unfamiliar territory, make smart phones a thing of the future that’s clearly here to stay.
  5. Libraries
    While important at one point for research and digging up information, libraries are no longer the primary resource for most research. With the Internet comes access to thousands of databases, newspaper articles, journals—you name it. Plus, Wikipedia is a great site for a quick and easy explanation on any particular topic (though its use as a primary source is not recommended).
  6. Travel Agents
    A travel agent, while very helpful and perhaps advisable for lengthy travel plans, is no longer the gatekeeper of vacation planning (and neither is an airline ticket counter or reservation office). Instead, a whole new world of travel sites has emerged to offer competitive pricing on travel across the world, like Expedia or Orbitz. Or, a quick look at an airline’s website can help figure out flight times and prices. Of course, this trend isn’t just limited to air travel; booking hotels and car rentals are just as easy through travel aggregator sites.
  7. Media
    So how about those VHS and cassette tapes? Media consumption as we know it is changing every minute. We now acquire music through digital files that we can take anywhere, removing the need for physical audiotape or CD. And through digital streams, we can see what’s happening on the other side of the world—or simply watch a favorite classic movie—on our laptop or tablet.

It goes without saying that as more technological advances come into the mainstream, we’ll start to walk away from the old ways of doing things and step into a new frontier of the human experience. Which is quite exciting... And won’t require you to rewind before returning.