Parenting: McFly, DeLoreans, and the soon-to-be obsolete

November 8, 2010

I caught the movie right at the scene where Marty McFly was trying to escape from Biff and the rest of his gang, happens to see two children on scooters, breaks off the top of one of them and transforms it into a skateboard. A skateboard - something the people of Hill Valley had never seen. At least back in 1955.

It got me thinking of what has changed since we were young, and what items our children's children will cock their heads at one day and say "what's that?"

Here are a few I came up with off the top of my head:

Wrist watches. I spoke to some eighth grade students in Chester County last week (and took video of the visit - watch: http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/video?id=7766713). In a room of 20 students, only two were wearing a watch on their wrist. The Smartphone is the new watch. And yes, even though I own a Smartphone, I still wear a wrist watch (old school).

Paper. It just makes sense to one day stop producing paper. Portable electronic devices will become even more portable, and prevalent, with better battery life. And better connectivity.

The combustion engine. So much effort has gone into making cars "greener" (and yes, we hope that word will become obsolete one day too) that one would think a car that does not need small explosions to go forward will be available for purchase.

E-mail. This is a complicated one. You would think e-mail, as a relatively new method of communication, would have longer staying power. I just have to think with the amount of spamming, with the lack of a worldwide directory of addresses, and the continuing dominance of social networking sites will have us abandoning that e-mail account. One day.

HDMI cables. This one doesn't make much sense to me. You see, we went from cord phones, to cordless phones, to wireless cell phones. But when it comes to TV's, we went from watching over-the-air signals to having to lay cable all across the country, and into our houses, so that we can plug in to all this new television. And then they told us we also had to hook up our TV's to a cable "box." I'm thinking the trend will be moving back toward wireless television. Perhaps we will have a single broadcasting unit somewhere in the house, and all of our TV's can grab a signal through some type of home wi-fi network.

Paved roads. This will be well into the future. Ever see the movie "Minority Report?" Remember how people travelled in those little pods on what looked like these flat stretches of runway-type arteries? I think that concept might work well one day.

Cash registers. Why can't we just swipe our mobile devices at the checkout? Probably the lack of proper security and/or trust by the consumer. That should change.

Finally, ballot boxes. Once everyone across the country is connected to the internets, or able to connect somewhere near their homes, we should not have to stand in line at the polls anymore. But would the ease of voting change who we would vote for?

I guess we shall have to wait until the future. Yes, the future. Hello? Hello? McFly, anybody home?

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