Published on: July 31, 2012by Michael Sansolo
Based on the e-mails coming to MorningNewsBeat, some of you don’t always agree with Kevin’s wide-ranging opinions. And today it’s my turn.
KC, this time I think you may have gotten it wrong.
In yesterday’s edition, Kevin reported on the government studying the speed at which cash seems to be going away. Then he commented: Hard to imagine going completely cashless, at least not in my lifetime, but at the very least I hope that the government asks the right questions and tries to get ahead of this curve, as opposed to the way it has handled the US Postal Service.
My response to that is simple: Things change and like it or not, the world of money could be vastly different really fast and certainly in your lifetime - especially since we are about the same age and aren’t going anywhere fast.
There are a couple of ways to look at this. For any of you with a parent or grandparent who lived through the Great Depression you know that cash is or was their thing. Studies have shown that Boomers carry significantly less cash then their parents and are far more reliant on credit and debit cards. We obviously would be seeing all the fuss over transaction fees if the way we buy everything hadn’t migrated so rapidly from cash and checks to credit and debit.
Based on that, it’s easy to see how the next generation could take us to an entirely new place where cash is unnecessary. In fact, almost daily we see stories of digital payments taking over. Paying bills that way is old hat. Now, as was just announced in the area where I live, even parking meters no longer need coins or cards. Phones now work just fine.
A couple of months back AARP magazine, (and yes, neither AARP or a magazine seem the likely places to find cutting edge trends) ran a fabulous article about machines and objects that have disappeared, are disappearing or will soon disappear from our lives. Since I began my career armed with a rotary phone and an IBM typewriter, I was curious.
Among those items that are largely gone: televisions with tubes, phone books, deposit slips for banking, Rolodexes for our connections, incandescent bulbs that produce more heat than light and, of course, film. It’s really not that long ago that all of those items were necessities of life. Now we barely use any of them and we can’t imagine people under the age of 30 caring much about them, unless they are in the pursuit of nostalgia.
AARP went further, predicting which currently essential items are likely to soon vanish. Home phones topped the list, which makes sense especially to the generations growing up on mobile. No longer will an area code tell you where someone is located because the phone number will move with us forever. Stamps are becoming as passé as letters, which harkens back to Kevin’s comment about the USPS. When people aren’t sending letters or bills anymore, stamps are a waste and the Post Office seems increasingly useless. And while I like analog clocks, my life, like yours, is dominated by digital.
Some of AARP’s predictions may shock you. Gas pumps may become less prevalent as electric cars grow in number. Already we see recharging stations appearing and we’re only at the start of the electric era. Language barriers may fall away as technology enables instantaneous translation in much the way Star Trek imagined some 40 years back.
Most shocking of all - certainly to a group I recently addressed - toilet paper may be going, pardon the pun, down the drain. Ask anyone who has visited Japan in the past 10 years about the wonders of toilet seats that heat, wash and provide air-drying. I’ve had the experience and it’s incredibly cool. (To use the seat that is. The air, thankfully, is warm!)
Why does all this matter? Because what we know today is no guarantee of what we need to know tomorrow. What we consider essential today might be meaningless overnight.
The past teaches us tons about the future, but not everything. Not by a long shot.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at email@example.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
- KC's View:
- I'm fully prepared to live in a world without cash. But as world without toilet paper? Not sure about that...