When the Soviet Union dissolved 30 years ago, the history-changing event resulted in a number of unforeseen side effects. Some of these were economic or military or cultural. But one of the major and immediate changes fell under a simpler category: geography. Fifteen separate states rose from the former U.S.S.R., a fact that immediately rendered every contemporary globe and map obsolete. Amazingly, there have been 32 new states or name changes since 2000 alone. That all leads to the question: what things are just outliving their usefulness?
Sure, globes are nice. But the sheer amount of countries that have been founded, split off from other countries, or renamed since World War II is pretty staggering. In the 21st century, the biggest gap we had without a name change was from 2003 to 2005. With classroom-style 13” globes running about $40 a piece, it would be insanely cost prohibitive to update globes regularly for all the classrooms that have them. And honestly, do you want horribly out-of-date globes sitting around the school? That’s confusing at best, and outright disinformation at worst. As sad as it may be, it’s probably for the best to let this one go.
2. Conventional Wristwatches
At this point, conventional wristwatches only really survive for fashion reasons. Just about everyone carries some kind of cell phone, which means that just about everyone has access to time on their person. And that’s without including the one in five Americans that Pew Research indicates use some kind of smart watch or fitness tracker. Outside of being an affectation, wristwatches just aren’t necessary.
3. Rotary Phones
In 2019, the rotary phone was the poster child for a Post piece on things with greatly exaggerated demises. However, just because you can still order an item online doesn’t mean that it needs to stick around. Sure, some would enjoy the nostalgia and the kitsch factor, but it’s literally impossible to call any kind of business that uses a button-oriented menu (and that’s frankly everyone from your doctor to your kids’ school to the IRS). Outside of really wanting to place a call that doesn’t require any functional input, it’s past its time.
If you saw them use it on Mad Men, there probably isn’t a reason to have it in the office, let alone in your home. In 2021, there’s almost no discernible reason to use a typewriter. Consider maintenance issues, the annoyance of correcting errors, and the inability to send what you just wrote to another person directly from the typewriter. From an efficiency perspective alone, it’s well past the age of retirement. On a related note, fax machines are still in shockingly wide use in law enforcement and medical fields.
5. Medical Encyclopedias
This is not about “Atlas of the Human Body” type books that are targeted at children, nor is it about the very expensive and regularly updated type of volumes used by professionals. This is about medical encyclopedias targeted at everyday consumers. Much like the globe, a handbook of diseases and symptoms for regular people is outdated almost as soon as it’s printed. A 2018 edition, for example, would have no information on COVID-19; even though the root disease of severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 was known at that time, the particular virus wasn’t identified until December of 2019 (hence the 19). Working off of outdated information can be ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Solid information is available online from outlets like the Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, and other locations that may come recommended by your personal physician.
Featured image: Shutterstock
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