Steve Eighinger

Those one-time luxuries are now a part of everyday life

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 12, 2017 10:05 am

When was the last time you took a few minutes and thought about how much your life has changed in the last 10 to 20 years?

Our world seems to move so fast these days that it's easy to forget, or even dismiss, those days from the not-too-distant past.

For example, can you remember life without social media? Or how about that cool, new smartphone? Or perhaps that paper-thin laptop where we often watch our favorite shows, thanks to something called Netflix?

Look around your house tonight. Or think about all of the gadgets you used this afternoon.

When I moved to Quincy in late 1998, I did not own a cellphone or personal computer and had no idea how something that would later be termed "social media" would change the world.

That was less than 20 years ago. Now, I would find it difficult to make it through five minutes of any given day without any of those items that once would have been depicted as luxuries. For most of us, it's probably safe to say those one-time luxuries are now prerequisites to our daily existence, items such as:

Facebook: There are now 1.86 billion -- yes, billion -- monthly Facebook users. Think Mark Zuckerberg is pretty pleased with how this particular social media platform has worked out? Last year it generated more than $26.8 billion in revenue.

Google: This search engine is such an important part of our daily brain function that we look at it as more of a verb than a noun. Can't remember the name of a movie or who the star was? Just "Google" it.

TV screens: Television screens have become bigger and flatter, making some ordinary living rooms and mancaves the equivalent of big-studio screening rooms. At the same time, though, people are watching movies and other programming on the tiniest mobile screens imaginable.

DVRs: Another item that is now used as a verb -- "DVR-ing." There is now no reason to miss your favorite shows, even if you don't know what channel or network it's on, or what time it starts.

Video games: They actually date to 1962, but back then more than 90 percent of school-age kids were not addicted. And how much have the graphics and content of the games improved in the last 10 to 15 years? Anyone remember "Pong" or "Space Invaders?"

Cellphones: I can remember when these debuted in the early 1970s, resembling the big, lunky models once seen on "Seinfeld." Who knew they would evolve into our pocket-sized computer-esque smartphones?

Personal computer: By definition, computers were "invented to compute,' to solve complex mathematical problems." But today, because of our dependency on them for matters tied to everyday life, "computing" is the least important thing they do.

No home is complete these days without a PC, but can you remember when you didn't have one -- or several?

It wasn't that long ago, was it?

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