Periodically, often at year's end, American newspapers and magazines publish lists of what they consider "in" and "out" among our cultural trends. What was hot and hip a year ago can slip completely out of fashion. The Washington Post, for instance, somehow decided that shopping malls with one brand of stores that sell skating and surfing attire were "in" last year but "out" in 2007. Malls with another brand of young people's clothes have replaced them in trendiness.
The nationwide newspaper USA Today broadened the idea, listing what it called "25 things that have left us." These are things that were part of everyday American life not so very long ago that today are gone, nearly forgotten, or definitely out of style.
Indoor smoking is one. Nowadays, smokers are herded into designated areas out in the elements, where, somewhat shamefaced, they can puff away.
Typewriters are way out — replaced by computer keyboards.
Pop-top soda and beer cans are history, too. On today's cans, the pull-tabs remain attached rather than falling to the ground, where they can slice into bare feet.
And telephone booths, pay phones, and clunky rotary-dial phones whose wheel you had to spin seven to ten times with your index finger have all been supplanted by tiny, push-button cellular phones.
Of course it's natural for times and tastes to change. More and faster information, and improved comfort and convenience, are held up as hallmarks of progress.
But with them come increased expectations and frustrations. We demand more and more things, and faster — by computer, facsimile machine, overnight delivery, and text displays in the palm of our hand. Patience, contemplation, and careful consideration are out, you see. Impatience is in.