There has been a slew of articles and podcasts lately about America’s complacency and lack of innovation. And, it all might be true at some level. But – from my perspective, we have been riding a wave of innovation that makes life 1,000x better than it was even 20 years ago.
In fact, I can’t believe I had to live through the 1990s!
There are so many things that make life awesome right now, it is hard to know where to start.
1. Communication – free, easy and ubiquitous. My wife Heejin is texting me from an airplane as I type this, and texting in general didn’t even go mainstream until after the year 2000. Also, no matter where my wife is in the world, she can contact me for free via WhatsApp, Facebook, Kakao, Zoom, Skype, etc.
2. Internet Speed. This one is so obvious it hardly bears mentioning, but I well remember waiting for minutes, if not hours for downloads. And, streaming was unheard of.
3. Cell phones were bricks that only made calls for most of the 1990s. My iPhone today can run circles around any desktop computer I owned in the 90s.
4. TV in the 1990s consisted of Friends, Seinfeld, ESPN and cable news, and it was mostly awful. Today, there is so much amazing TV that I can hardly decide what to watch.
5. Books actually had to be read, unless you were lucky enough to find them on some old-fashioned cassette tapes. Today – my Audible and Kindle libraries are chock full of awesome books, and I am able to digest ten times more great content than I ever could in the “olden days.”
6. Podcasts may be the best invention ever. Planet Money, Masters of Scale, Econ Talk, 99% Invisible, Freakonomics, etc. There are thousands. No human being should ever be bored again.
7. Storage. My brother, who reads this blog (and will respond :)) used to spend thousands of dollars on hard drives and shelves to store all of his invaluable books and digital info. I had another friend who spent hundreds of hours cataloging all of his DVDs and CDs. Now, between Amazon and the cloud, storage is virtually unlimited and there is no need to store anything at home.
8. File sharing and music downloads. This is similar to #5 and #6, but music downloading alone pretty much changed the world.
9. Cars are cheaper and they run better than ever now. I remember actually having to repair a car in the 1990s.
10. Vacation rentals were a cumbersome nightmare in the 1990s before all the online options popped up. I had to rely on phone calls and booking agents, with very limited options.
11. Plane tickets and travel in general were far more expensive and cumbersome (I actually had a travel agent).
12. Google didn’t exist. People actually had to use books to look things up. Remember encyclopedias? The only good thing about the lack of Google was that my kids couldn’t fact check all of my statements and call me out like they do now :).
13. And Music is sooo much better now. Or not :). The internet says I am supposed to make fun of the Goo Goo Dolls, Collective Soul, and Smash Mouth but I actually liked them (especially Smash Mouth). But then again, I am old.
In any case, I could go on and on and on, and there are about a zillion things I am leaving off this list. But, if anyone doesn’t realize how stunningly awesome, fun and amazing life is right now, they might as well be Walkin’ On The Sun.
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