Seven things that may become throwbacks in 2016

By Hadley Robinson, Illustrations by Dolly Li

“TAXI!” Somebody yelled behind me as I walked to my office in San Francisco. “Wow,” I thought, “You don’t hear that much anymore.”

Here in the cradle of technology, Lyft and Uber rule. The convenience of using your smartphone to order a car within minutes is pushing traditional taxies toward total irrelevancy. That got me thinking…what else may fade or expire in 2016? So I asked some coworkers. Some of their answers were wishful thinking — iPads, supermarkets, the penny — while others were unlikely, just yet—Mp3 downloading, tampons, for-profit colleges.

Here’s some of our picks of things likely headed for extinction in 2016.

1. Asking for directions

Remember when you had to actually stop and talk to someone when you got lost? Those days are long gone for most of us. Now almost 2 out of 3 Americans owns a smartphone, and the majority of them say they use them for turn-by-turn directions in the car. And 25 percent of smartphone owners use them to get public transit info. We’ll see if the next generation will even be able to read a map at all, or if they’ll grow up using only a smartphone robot with a random girl’s name to tell them where they are.

2. Bookstores & record shops

Anyone you ask can likely name their favorite bookstore or record shop that’s now closed. And while hipsters and lovers of vintage books and vinyls are keeping some shops alive, they’re on the decline nationwide. You gotta admit, a good Netflix binge, Spotify streaming, or being able to read that novel on a screen without lugging a book around are darn good modern conveniences. Online shopping continued to grow in 2015, and it’s not just your holiday gift buying being done from your laptop in bed anymore. Companies like Instacart and other beer, wine or food delivery services mean we might not need to leave our cozy apartments for anything. Uh oh.
 
3. Privacy

Between the NSA and Google and Facebook and all those apps that let companies follow you wherever you go, our private lives are not so secret anymore. Some of the data-collecting provisions of the Patriot Act expired in 2015, but the NSA can still collect internet communications. ‘Cuz, terrorism. And how many of those long-ass privacy agreements have you actually read each time you download an app or want to connect your Facebook account to the hottest dating app? Like me and most other people out there, you probably just scrolled down and pressed “Agree.” Seeing those ads on the side of your Facebook feed or Google search makes it pretty obvious the internet has got you pegged. 
 
4. Attention spans

If you’ve gotten this far, I’m proud of you. We at AJ+ know how short your attention spans are — that’s why so many of our videos are under a minute! There’s so much internet, everywhere, all the time. How can you focus on one thing? Apparently, we are so impatient that a one-second lag time in loading a website can result in 11 percent fewer page views. I can’t imagine longer attention spans coming back any time soon.
 
5. Cash

Obviously, cash has been on the decline for awhile now — you can use plastic for most anything. Though some bars and coffee shops are holding out, we’ll be seeing far fewer “cash only” signs in the coming year. And now Venmo, Square and other apps are making it so you don’t even need to exchange cash among friends. Need to give your friend gas money? Make it easy to split the check? “Just Venmo me.” But before cash fully goes, we have a more urgent request for extinction: Pennies. We love you Abe, but there’s no need for pennies! 
 
6. The Middle Class

This is the saddest thing we see fading away. In the late ’60s more than half of the country qualified as middle class. That number shrunk to 43 percent in 2013. For awhile that was because more people were ascending to the upper class. But since 2000, the middle class narrowed because more people fell into a lower income group, defined as a household earning less than $35,000. Long sigh.

7. Donald Trump

Ok, so this might technically be wishful thinking, but we’d prefer a more rational conversation as we choose our next president and Congress in 2016. Away with the racist talk of databases and deportations. Enough of the non-sensical bluster. Please, early primary states, put us out of our misery already. At the very least, if you want to see him disappear from your web searches, use this. You’re welcome.

Happy New Year!

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