Pretend you’re an astronaut that has been in deep space for the last 30 years with little contact. You just landed back on Earth yesterday and are starting to get accustomed to Earth life again – gravity, non-freeze-dried food, human interaction, etc. But… you notice something. Everyone is doing what appears to be a constant scratching of their hand and they can’t stop looking at that hand either. What. Is. Going. On?! You start asking questions, but you don’t even know where to begin. Is everyone sick? Is this some new disease? Then, you come to find out no one is scratching their hand, but instead swiping through massive amounts of information located on the Internet on their smartphone. But wait, what the heck is the “Internet” and how can a phone be “smart”? Adopting to life when you’ve been completely gone for 30 years would be a hard-enough task by itself, but now you have to adapt to life and learn this new powerful thing everyone calls the Internet and the device that goes works with it? Ready to go back into space now? Well, stop worrying. We’ve laid out for you the major changes the world has seen since you left and how you can now live with them. Grab the Aspirin, you might need it for the headache.
If you wanted to rent a book, you went to the library. If you wanted to rent a movie, you went to Blockbuster. Pretty simple stuff, until you realized once you got there that all the copies of the book were checked out and you wasted 30 minutes trying to figure out the Dewey Decimal System. Then going over to Blockbuster to find out all the copies of that new release were rented out as well. It’s only simple if it works, right? Now with the advent of services like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and more, you can rent practically any movie you want with zero fear that it will be sold out or download a book from Amazon’s “cloud” straight to your phone, ready to read without getting off the couch. What is the “cloud”? Who knows. It holds pretty much everything except rain though.
Being nosey before you left Earth was hard to hide. It was always an obvious endeavor whenever you asked someone “What’s your latest news!?” Lucky for you, if you were the nosey type, you’ve never had an easier way to spy on people. With the use of social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can now easily keep tabs on multiple people without even having to talk to them! Both a blessing and a curse, social media has been blamed for the growing lack of human compassion now present on Earth.
The Urge to Learn Something
Did you ever want to know more about wine? How about ways to correct your running movement? Maybe even more knowledgeable about camping? Before you left, it probably wasn’t the easiest and involved multiple trips to the library with multiple books, maybe involving a self-proclaimed expert that you had to actually hunt down. With the power of Internet search engine Google, your ability to inform yourself on these types of topics now involves a couple of hours sitting in your house on your computer or phone and typing in “I want to learn about wine” and reading a couple of the 111,000,000 results that appear before you.
30 years ago, going to the store, looking at their inventory, and picking something out from there was the norm. If you didn’t like anything, you huffed and puffed and then went to another store to waste more time and potentially not find anything there either. Your “things to buy” selection was limited to about a one-hour radius unless you had a very open day. In today’s world, the ability to buy literally anything you want from any part of the world is almost 100% possible. Handmade ring from New Mexico? Done. Green tea straight from the fields of China? Easy. With services like Amazon that started in 1994 by selling books out of Jeff Bezos’ garage and morphed into an absolute monster company, you’re going to become more entitled when it comes to your shopping. Price comparisons were hardly a thing before you left, but now with Amazon, who is known for their low prices and fast shipping, you can walk into a store, check the price on something you want, pull out your smartphone, and check the competing price on Amazon. Chances are, Amazon’s price is lower. This also brings me to another point. Department stores were a definite thing before you left and now they are kind of not a thing. Shopping malls are disappearing, department stores are starting to close doors, and this is all be because around 76% of shoppers do their Christmas shopping all from their smartphones while 84% of them say they will look at Amazon first. The world is much smaller and more convenient now and we did it just because.
Wanting to See Some Nudity
30 years ago, if I were to say, “Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when I say this word – Playboy”. You’d undoubtedly chuckle and say nudey magazine. Well… some odd things have happened since you were last here and, frankly, now you really can look at a Playboy for the articles. With the advent of the Internet, nudity has become so easily accessible without having to pay for it that Playboy, back in 2015, announced that they would stop publishing nude photographs of women to speak to wider demographic and the millennial consumer with “PG-13 partial nudes only”.
Need to Get Around?
If you boil it down, cars are still the same. They run on gas, they don’t fly, they still break down when you need them the most, and to top it off, none of them even have flux capacitors. However, that’s where the similarities stop. If you were to get in a car today, you might realize that it’s probably way more advanced than that spaceship you’ve been floating in for the past 30 years. Between the touchscreens on the dashboard and the built-in wifi, comparing even the top of the line car from when you left to the top of line car today would be like comparing the top of the line car from when you left to the very bottom of the line car today. You had a cassette player if you were lucky. Now you have a cassette player if you are poor. In fact, Tesla a new electric car company is designing software that will drive your car for you so that you can watch your favorite movie and not even worry about the traffic. Oh yeah, electric cars are a thing now! This is quite possibly the biggest leap forward and Tesla the electric car company, not the reincarnated person, is spearheading this initiative while really disrupting the market. In fact, some people say their cars are so advanced that it’s almost like sitting in a spaceship when you get into one – maybe the car for you. But, we haven’t even talked about Uber or Lyft or Curb or any of the numerous other apps on smartphones that have completely changed the way people can get around. These little apps have actually taken an entire industry and revolutionized it instead of just modifying it like cars have. Need a ride home from the bar? Open any one of those apps and request a driver. Instead of finding some grungy company taxi, you’ll find yourself riding home in the back of someone’s Cadillac, Ford, or maybe even a Tesla. It has more of that “chauffeur” feeling than it does “I can tolerate this taxi cab drivers cigarette smoke smell for 10 minutes” feeling and that’s what makes it so great. It took a bottom of the barrel industry and turned it around to something that everyone wants to use because it’s just too convenient not to.
Music and Where to Find It
Were you coming back to Earth with the excitement of finding out what kind of music we are listening to now only to find things like Skrillex, Slayer, and Snoop Dog? Well, sorry about your ear drums. Not only has music exploded into an absurd about of sub-categories, but it has actually changed in a way you probably never thought possible. Before you left, you were probably comfortable in thinking that there were a couple categories that all music could be classified under like pop, rock, jazz, classical, country, R&B, folk and a couple more. Back in 2014, a man named Glenn McDonald created something called “Every Noise at Once” which identified sub-genres for only popular genres. Want to know how many sub-genres he discovered? 1,264. Good luck. The most awesome thing about the music industry now isn’t these new genres, but the access we now have to these genres. Prior to leaving, the radio, buying a CD, and maybe even popping in a cassette. I couldn’t even tell you where to buy a cassette and CDs are odd to see as well, but radio survived. So, how do we access songs without the radio? Well, some people oddly have reverted back to vinyl so there is some comfort for you there, but what about the rest of us? The rest of us have moved to hugely popular services like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and more have revolutionized the music industry by creating the ability to listen to practically any song, anywhere, at any time on your smartphone. Gone are the days of listening to the radio for hours just to hear your new favorite song. Simply use one of those services and you can be listening to your favorite song and way more in seconds.
The Internet is to the smartphone what music was to the CD. It wasn’t exactly necessary, but it made the experience oh so much better. Prior to you leaving, the Internet was still in utero. It was around and people knew about it but accessing it was messy, complicated, and required everyone to be off the house phone for the duration of your use. Now that you’re back, not only do we have a more useful version of the Internet, but it’s making our lives easier day by day. With the creation of things like “Wi-Fi” and “Data Plans”, the Internet is now accessible without any wires and practically anywhere. But even none of that would be in existence if it weren’t for the smartphone. The smartphone has a foggy beginning with Palm Pilots and IBM’s Simon, but those were so underutilized that I’m not even going to bore you with them. In 2007, Apple released the iPhone and HTC released a competing smartphone with the operating system called Android that was created by Google in 2008. These devices were the “kick in the butt” the smartphone industry needed. The iPhone, harnessing the power of the Internet, allows us to do things in real-time like navigation, music, calling people, and checking in on people. It also allows you to browse the Internet whenever you please which then caused the phone application boom and is now around 77 billion dollar industry. The craziest part is this smartphone isn’t some giant machine you have to lug around. In fact, it’s probably smaller and lighter than some people’s wallets – and it’s getting smaller every year. The only computerized device you were aware of is the desktop computer which is gigantic compared to these bad boys. Now, most people don’t even own a desktop computer and opt for a more user-friendly device like the smartphone or the laptop or tablet. If you remember the first laptop the Osbourne 1 created in 1981, it was 24 pounds and cost around $1,500. That’s about 10x the weight of one today and double, maybe even triple the price of them.
So, don’t be alarmed, but there is a lot to learn now that you’re back here for a while. Just know that we are just getting started with all this new technology and we will be moving quickly with it. In accordance with Moore’s Law which states “the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year”, what has taken us 6 years to accomplish recently will only take us three years to accomplish in the near future. Buckle in and sit tight, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Oh, and the man known as Donald Trump that everyone knew as a business tycoon, he’s now the President of The United States.
By Brian Flick