10 things we can't live without (but Grandma did)
It's hard to imagine people getting by without things like cellphones, ATMs, the Internet and permanent press fabric.
This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.
According to Jason, life would still go on if we didn't have products and services like GPS devices, plastic sandwich bags, tanning salons, and even health insurance. While I mainly agreed with Jason, there are two items on his list on which we have a real difference of opinion (which I'll get to in a moment).
Of course, that got me thinking about all the other things that our grandparents lived without that I consider to be truly indispensable today. Here are 10 products or services that I happened to come up with:
The Internet. Never mind the increased traffic and crowds at brick-and-mortar stores, or longer lines of people waiting to pay their bills at the last minute. If the Internet disappeared tomorrow, it would likely result in a tremendous hit to the U.S. economy. A recent study found that the Internet is responsible for a little over 3 million jobs, with the value of their wages alone equal to 2% of GDP -- and that's before you consider lost productivity, reduced avenues for commerce and innovation, and the rapid exchange of information.
Modern commercial passenger jet airliner. The introduction of the Boeing 707 in 1958 kicked off the Jet Age and the beginning of affordable commercial intercontinental travel for the masses. Today, more people than ever can travel from one coast to the other in a matter of hours -- or travel to the other side of the world in less than a day. It's just too easy to take this convenience for granted.
Credit and debit cards. Although Jason will tell me that Grandma and Grandpa got along just fine before "plastic money" was invented in 1950, there are too many credit card advantages to ignore. Besides, we live in the electronic age now; it's tough to buy anything on the Internet without a credit card. Heck, these days your cash is no good if you want to buy an in-flight snack on a lot of airlines. And who wants to carry around thousands of dollars in their wallet whenever they plan on buying a big-ticket item?
IPod. Scoff all you want; you know I'm right.
Automated teller machines. Here's a fun ATM machine fact: Before ATMs became ubiquitous -- and cash was still king -- you didn't have a lot of options if the banks were closed and you needed paper currency. If you were lucky, you could go to a local market that was willing to cash your personal check, or borrow money from a friend or neighbor. If not, no soup for you. You'd just have to wait until the banks opened the next day. That is, unless you were at the front end of a three-day bank holiday. (Talk about a long weekend.)
Personal computer. The personal computer is arguably the greatest invention of the last 100 years. The power of the computer is used in so many ways, across so many industries, that it is virtually impossible to imagine living in the world today without them.
Tax preparation software. Yes, it's still possible to do your taxes with a calculator, the requisite IRS tax forms, and a sharp pencil. It's also still possible to make your own soap from rendered animal fat, but that doesn't make a lot of sense anymore either. Just sayin'.
Cellphone. Jason and I disagree here too. People who find themselves away from home without a cellphone and need to make a call have a bit of a problem. That's because the days of finding a pay phone on every corner are long, long gone. Consider that, as recently as 2000, there were more than 2 million pay phones in the United States. By 2007, however, there were only 870,000. Anecdotal evidence suggests the numbers have continued to drop. When was the last time you saw a working street corner pay phone?
Overnight mail delivery. Although highly important and/or perishable goods have been delivered by air mail since 1918, an air-based mail system capable of delivering letters and other small packages on a large scale virtually anywhere in the country wasn't established until 1977. Today, either directly or indirectly, almost everyone takes advantage of overnight mail service more than they want to admit.
Permanent press fabric. You think people were upset when Pia Toscano got prematurely booted off "American Idol"? That's nothing compared with what would happen if you took away permanent press fabric; most people would finally have to learn how to use an iron. Well, at least Grandma would be proud.
More on Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:
I'm in my early 30s, work in the technology field, and have never owned a cell phone. The 3 or 4 times a year when I'm away and really need to make a call do not justify the $400+ a year I would spend on a cell. People often ask, "What would you do if you were in an accident?" I had a car totaled 3 years ago and I used the responding police officer's phone. If the accident were serious (were I injured), I probably wouldn't be capable of making a call.
I don't have cable TV or a cell or other similar frivilous expenses. This allows me to enjoy my hobbies (golf and alpine skiing), remain debt free, and save a considerable amount of money in both cash and investments.
Actually, I think if most people were really honest, they would realize they CAN do without these things. We need to return to our roots. Mayberry anyone?
This has got to be one of the stupidest articles I've seen in a LOOOOOONG time! If you can't do without everything on her list you are in a world of hurt!
Like someone else mentioned....try doing without electricity, running water, indoor toilets, clothes dryers, more than one pair of shoes, modern cooking range (I learned to cook on a wood cook stove) , fruit & veggies out of season!
This author has a serious misunderstanding between wants and needs.
Many of these are conveniences, but not absolute needs. If your income was cut to the bare minimum, there is no way you can afford all of these products and/or services.
For the millions of unemployed people and homless people, they get buy without many of these things. So are we suggeesting that they are somehow not part of modern society?
Do you pesonally know of anyone who doesn't:
- use the internet
- fly aywhere
- own a credit card
- own an iPod
- use ATM's (this is dependant on having Debit/Credit cards)
- have a personal computer
- use tax preparation software
- own a cell phone
- use overnight shipping
- own all permanent press clothing
I personally know many people for each of these categories, but I don't know of anyone who lacks every single one of them.
All of these things are wants (conveniences), not needs. In fact I would argue that society would be better off without a few of thee things - but that's a whole seperate conversation.
I know how to use an iron. I actually own clothes that are not made from petroleum products and therefore require a bit of real care.
I do miss the days when air travel was more... what's the word?... civlized, certainly, but also less in demand; when you could have an entire row of seats to yourself - maybe even the row behind you and in front you empty as well. Ah, to stretch out, relax, and actually have a bit of quiet while flying the formerly-friendly skies.
Ironically, I'm one of the newer generations and I don't need most of that.
Thank god I was taught to iron, because all of my clothes are made out of actual fabric. The only thing I can't live without would probably be the internet. I don't even need a cell phone or a home computer, as I could just buy a portable hard drive instead.
Love the iPod blurb, though.
I would like to point out that I have seen a number of homeless, poor people and even they can manage to get and use a cell phone.. Nothing more fun than watching a bum standing on a corner begging for money while talking on his cell.. just puts the whole thing in perspective, doesn't it?
We should be called "The Vanishing Generation", I saw the last 8 tracks being played in my mother's U$ 500 dollars VW Beetle, and she bought a dual cassette/8 track player for the house in order to keep on listening to them, IPods? She had the radio on all day.
The wars between the beta max vs. VHs, the small time period that laser discs were "mentioned" rather than used, I feel that it was only a few weeks ago that I gave away my Video tape collection (7 years ago) but I still have a dual VHS/DVD player (which does not record HD TV anyways)
How about public phone and their booths? I was a truck driver since the 80s and trucking between 6 states (Pa, NJ, NY, RI, MA, CT) I saw the public telephones disappear one by one, corner after corner, first the phone and the booth was vandalized and never repaired, then one or two phones out of a bank of several in one location would be repaired, then by 1995-96 I saw the technicians removing them from their locations, By 1998 inside hospitals, most public phones were yanked, I mean I was sitting inside a booth and was told to go and use the outside phone, just before tearing them out of the hospital lobby.
Finally I did surrender my pager on 1998 and bought my first cell phone on 1999.
I really believe that there is nothing on this list that we can't live without. People lived before these "conveniences" and got along just fine. I'm sure people will live just fine without them long after they are gone.
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