Idioms Lost to Tech
Technology changes everything, from how we shop to how we stay in touch with friends. And it definitely changes the way we talk--just a few years ago phrases like "Facebook friends," "trending on Twitter," and "I can has more cheezburger?" didn't even exist.
But with each new tech-savvy phrase that's introduced, another technology-based idiom is retired--or should be. Taken literally, most idioms don't make a lot of sense (think "Don't have a cow, man"), but we all know what they mean. Thanks to the changes in technology, though, many of today's idioms are about to go extinct--after all, who under 30 knows what a record player is? Or a landline?
1. "Sound like a broken record"
Want to feel old? Ask anyone born in the last 15 years what a record actually is. If you find the right teen, they might be able to tell you what a record looks like, and what it was used for. But good luck finding a kid today who's ever touched a record--not to mention, who understands just how annoying it is to listen to the sk-sk-skipping sound of a truly broken record. Want to prove the point? Buy Justin Bieber's latest song on vinyl and dig out your father's record player. That oughta do it.
2. "Kodak moment"
You know it when you see it. Nope, I'm not talking about porn: I'm talking that picture-perfect moment you wish you could capture on film, the Kodak moment. But with Kodak filing for bankruptcy and shuttering services, it seems like we're going to need a new name for those photo-ready moments. Hey, I hear the name Polaroid is available...or maybe not.
3. "Let's see what develops"
Speaking of Polaroid, how about the joy of watching your (Polaroid) camera spit out an instant snapshot and watching as the image slowly comes to life? Those days are gone (though the company is trying to bring them back), as are the days of looking at any film to see what develops. "Let's see what develops" has been used to describe forthcoming changes in life, people, relationships, and more. But today, we're all about instant gratification, whether it's with photos or life--we want to see the image instantly as it appears on screen.
4. "On the same wavelength"
Status: At Risk
Being on the same wavelength refers to two (or more) people listening to a radio transmission on one wavelength. But tell anyone under the age of 20 that you're "on the same wavelength" and you're likely to find that you're suddenly not (on the same wavelength). The closest thing to a radio that young 'uns get to these days is their iHeartRadio App.
5. "Front-page news"
Before the Internet, and before cable news stations and their round-the-clock coverage of breaking news, it was a simpler time, a time when the daily newspaper was important, and its front page carried the biggest stories of the day. Front-page news was a big deal; not so much anymore. Somehow, the phrase "trending topic on Twitter" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
6. "Hot off the press"
Yup, it used to be exciting to get something brand, spanking new. Something so fresh, it was "hot off the press." But now, the printing press has joined the CRT monitor, rotary telephones, and cassette tapes in the annals of technologies pushed out by faster, more efficient, high-tech replacements.
7. "Got our wires crossed"
Status: At Risk
So, way back in the day we had something called wires. They were used to connect things, like phones and computers, to each other. And sometimes, they got mixed up, or "crossed," making things very confusing. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, we may have our wires crossed. And while I don't want to confuse you with any more old-fashioned talk, I should also tell you about lines. In a time even before wires, we had telephones and telegraphs that used lines. Sometimes, the operator would connect you to the wrong line, and then we'd have our lines crossed, and it would all be very confusing. Hard to understand, I know.
8. "Tune in" (or "Tune out")
Sometimes I have trouble paying attention to my editor, so I just tune out when he's talking. I have to try really hard to tune in to what he's saying. (Um, if you're reading this, Mr. Editor, I'm totally kidding.) But the days of tuning your radio dial or, heaven forbid, your TV tuner, to the right station are long gone. Let's hope that my attention-deficit problems are on their way out, too.
9. "Hit the airwaves"
It's an election year, and Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are really hitting the airwaves to get their messages out. Or, well, they would be, if people still used antennas and the airwaves for their TV reception anymore. It's a digital world now, so I guess we could say "they're really hitting the underground cables," or perhaps, "the fiber-optic communications network." Yeah, that sounds weird.