With the 2018 CNET gadgets making the rounds on the Internet, it feels like we’re living in the future. Take the Samsung S-Ray, for example. It’s a mini-speaker, but it doesn’t play out loud. (That would be ridiculous because it would disturb the people around you.) No, this item beams sound “straight into your ears.” Huh? I never had a problem with music actually playing out loud, but to each his own. And then there’s Toto’s Floating Tub, which simulates the feeling of floating in space. When I actually have time unwind in a regular bath, I’m grateful. I don’t need to feel like I’m in zero-gravity.
All of this technology somehow makes me long for a simpler time—when the gadgets we used were clunky, yet functional. Here are some that I wish were still around:
Original Nintendo Entertainment System
I have absolutely no idea what new game consoles are on the market right now. All I know is that watching any modern video game makes me dizzy. Also, since I have small children, I need to be concerned with them interacting with weirdos through the game, since everything is online now. You know what was awesome and didn’t need the internet? NINTENDO. Yes, the original console. Sure, you had to occasionally blow into the cartridges to get the dust out to make them work, but the games were fun and challenging, and there was such a sense of accomplishment when you beat a level or found a new warp zone.
5-Disc CD Player
There was a time when albums were written to be listened to in their entirety. They told a story as one song progressed into the next. There was something so lovely about putting five of your favorite CDs into a changer and just letting it run through from beginning to end. With my iTunes now, I feel mildly schizophrenic. Unless I curate a very specific playlist, my music is generally shuffling from one song to the next. The result is ’80s pop followed by grunge, followed by rap, followed by Springsteen. And yes, I know that I can just choose an album and listen, but that’s contrary to the point of why iTunes exists.
Here, all the same reasons apply from my CD argument, but there’s something more for the record player. Just close your eyes and think back to gently placing the needle on the vinyl. You can hear the moment it makes contact as the undeniable static emerges from the speaker. It’s a beautiful thing. (Until it hits a scratch…)
I AM ADDICTED TO MY SMART PHONE. Deleting apps doesn’t help—then I just read the news incessantly. Deleting the news apps doesn’t help, because then I’m just checking email non-stop. I am sick of looking down at my phone and I fear I lack the willpower to just put it away and forget about it. Flip phones were awesome because they were just phones. They weren’t mini computers, radios, cameras, and access to the rest of the world.
I know that cellular technology has come far, but it’s far from perfect. Landlines are such a safe bet—they simply do not cut out or drop your calls. I hate having to make important calls on my mobile because the experience is so unpredictable. Plus, landlines don’t follow you around all day. Sometimes it’s nice not to be reachable.
Ok, this isn’t a gadget, per se, but it was awesome. You just don’t see an abundance of lava lamps like you used to. I’m not sure my college dorm room would have been the same without one.
Yes, some people actually still own regular cameras, but most don’t. I had one, and I don’t have a clue where it is. Real cameras are simply superior to most in-phone cameras. The images are crisp. But also, real cameras force you to be picky about what you’re shooting. Now people just walk around with their phones pointed at EVERYTHING. There’s no art in that. And it’s annoying.