Things Are Different Today..

Brian Welsh
Nov 30, 2010
Updated • Dec 4, 2012

Sometimes it's hard to see just how much the internet has really changed things. The holidays are just one example of how things are intensely different than they were before. It's not easy to always see the differences because they tend to creep up on us a little bit at a time. For example, you have to be a certain age to remember the anticipation kids used to have for holiday cartoons. That was because there was no cable television, there weren't hundreds of channels, there were no DVDs or even VHS cassettes of the holiday specials. Instead there were four or five network channels that showed certain cartoons each year at Christmas and maybe they would make a holiday special with a popular favorite cartoon like Scooby Doo, the Flintstones, the Chipmunks, or the Smurfs. Kids today can't really imagine how much more impact these characters, shows, and holiday specials used to have on us. The reason? Scarcity. We couldn't simply go to Youtube and look up the Grinch or Frosty the Snowman. We had to wait.

Sure, you might be saying, watching cartoons on holidays is a real quaint tradition and YouTube has taken some of the specialness out of it, but what about real change? Well, certainly no one gathers around the television on Thursday night to watch holiday cartoons as a family any longer. Nor do most people even bother to send Christmas cards. Instead, a group email or more likely a Facebook page update or a Twitter status change is what you should expect from most people. It used to be that long distance was pretty expensive when you called another town, state, city, or country, but these days we can call anyone anytime we like and it only costs airtime, not the distance. How did this change the holidays? Well, it used to be that we would call the people we loved on the holidays and because it was rare and expensive, we would treasure the moment. No more. Scarcity is gone. We can call anytime, even for free if we use Skype or Gtalk. And those holiday greeting cards? Chances are the only ones you get will be from your 97 year old great aunt or from some company that mass produces them and sends them out in bulk because they hope to capitalize on the good feelings that such cards used to generate.

I can't really say that the internet has empowered or brought about new holiday traditions. Sure, you can have a Skype conference call with the whole family now, but who really does that? Maybe the closest thing would be posting our holiday photos on Facebook. Of course, maybe I'm just bitter and jaded and remembering things from a rosy past at the expense of the present moment's technological achievements.

After all, it didn't use to be that you could follow Santa's progress on the NORAD site or have Santa send your kid from the North Pole using Fiverr or some other site. And then there are the great ways you can shop without leaving home now. No need to go to the mall and see the fancy animatronic displays any more or even to go to the next town to see the Christmas displays. We don't need to leave home anymore to do everything. I'm not so sure things are better, in fact, I would say they are worse.

When I was a kid people used to complain that Christmas had become too commercial but if they could have seen what it has become today they would have sighed with relief and kept all their complaints to themselves. Those simple commercial traditions of yesteryear seem incredibly quaint now.

Hanging the Christmas lights, going out to drive through the neighborhoods to see other people's lights, fighting the crowds at the big department stores, buying and sending the Christmas cards – not to mention writing with a pen inside of each one a personalized and thoughtful message- these seem so innocent now.

christmas back home

Imagine that we complained that Christmas started on the heels of Thanksgiving but these days, my email inbox has been filled with holiday specials since July. We used to head down to the local mall to meet some old drunk Santa and maybe to tell some elf our secret Christmas wishes, but now, the internet lists hundreds of places and somehow knowing that Santa is simultaneously in hundreds or thousands of spots at the same time makes it completely impossible for me to suspend my disbelief for even a second.

The days of chestnuts roasting by the open fire, families gathered around a TV with an antenna to watch Frosty the Snowman, or even getting a card from someone you thought had forgotten all about you are dead and gone. It's a shame really. Cyber Christmas just doesn't feel the same. Not that I liked getting elbows in my ribs as I fought for Christmas bargains at the five and dime, but there was something real about it that just doesn't seem the same when we spend time on Amazon shopping and then have the gift shipped to the recipient without ever actually touching it.

Sure, those Amazon elves do a nice job wrapping things, but I sort of miss the fingerprints on the scotch tape. The convenience is there, that's for sure, but something important has really died and gone away forever. I guess it must be the same way my grandparents felt when they watched us kids watching color cartoons on the television and they thought of going caroling with friends or attending a church mass on Christmas Eve. Maybe I'm just becoming an old fuddy duddy.

I can't help wondering though what the future will hold for the holidays. Will it be a matter of having automated holiday greetings that get sent to people at the right time. Maybe we can have our shopping done for us so that not only do we not touch the gifts but we never even see them. Or instead, maybe we will all just plug in to the internet and our cyber selves will pretend to go caroling and watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on an old television with an antenna.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

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