Anybody interested in a phone book?
How about a genuine, full color Rand McNally map of Northeastern United States, guaranteed never to return to its original folded state?
Still no takers?
I’m not surprised. Of all the items that the digital age has rendered practically useless, these two are probably near the top of the list. Think about the last time you needed a phone number. Even if you don’t have a smart phone, you at last have a cell phone, with a list of three gazillion contacts. My phone even has the Illuminating Company’s number for reporting power outages. But on that rare occasion when you do have to look one up, there are easier ways than lugging out a five pound tome and then trying to read names and numbers basically the size of fly spots. Google does it better. And if you do have a smart phone, Google will not only find it, but also, with the tap of a finger, dial it for you. Through the magic of Bluetooth, it’s even possible to do the whole thing hands-free.
Ditto the road map. Anyone over, say, forty, might remember driving along the highway while whoever was in the passenger seat wrestled with a piece of paper the approximate size of Lake Erie and about as hard to calm. Why was it that whatever town or city you were trying to find was inevitably on the flip side? Use the map long enough and coffee stains would obliterate whole counties and rips would become sinkholes into which would tumble Boston or Chicago. Some people, of course, weren’t too concerned about that. But I say, God bless whoever invented the GPS.
I got thinking about all this the other day when I opened the glove compartment of our family car, releasing a veritable Niagara Falls of road maps. Why on earth were we keeping them? They hadn’t been used for a good decade. The original Declaration of Independence was in better shape. Heck, even James, our GPS persona, hadn’t been out of the console for months. If we needed directions, we just plugged the address into a map app (nice poetic ring there, eh?) on my iPhone and within seconds, it spit out a visual and also turn by turn driving directions. The paper maps were clearly headed for the recycle bin.
Which reminded me of one of our kitchen drawers, the contents of which consisted solely of these two items: phone books and maps. It needed cleaning out and there was no time like the present. Within minutes, the whole thing was empty. (Well, okay, I did keep a few maps of a sentimental nature, and just in case the entire Internet was taken over by aliens. And one phone book.) Leaving, in the drawer, a huge vacuum, which my nature abhorred. What to put in it?
It took about a nanosecond. Guaranteed to fit in the space and to most likely become obsolete even faster than the phone books and maps? Simple. All the cables, chargers, batteries, etc. for the digital devices.
Happy New Year, everyone! And stay connected, will you? Somehow.