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9 everyday things that vanished in 2020

Samantha Menzies
·Contributing editor
·5-min read
9 everyday things that vanished in 2020. Source: Getty
9 everyday things that vanished in 2020. Source: Getty

The coronavirus pandemic has seen lives lost, economies dwindle and everyday life come to a halt, and there are more changes to come.

Thanks to the virus, the writing is on the wall for many everyday items, practices and gadgets which were once considered essential.

Here are 9 things which have been made obsolete in 2020, making everyday life look a little different in future.

1. Cash

Cash was already on its way out before 2020 arrived with the number of transactions steadily declining over the past 10 years as consumers opt for cashless options such as credit cards or even their smartphone or smartwatch.

A recent McKinsey report shows after an initial spike in cash withdrawals when the first lockdowns started earlier this year, concerns around the risk of contracting covid-19 from high-traffic ATMs and refusal of some merchants to accept cash has pushed customers towards e-payment options.

The lockdowns, combined with this fear that cash helps spread the virus, and a drop in overall spending, caused a ‘severe’ drop in cash usage.

While some sectors have rebounded, the shift has seen electronic payments rise while cash usage remains lower.

The report explains that while cash usage was already declining, the covid-19 pandemic has accelerated ‘winds of change in global payments’.

2. Touch screens

The use of touch screens has been brought to a standstill by the coronavirus outbreak.

Although the technology has become part of our daily lives both at home and in public, since news that the coronavirus can live on hard surfaces now means that any public touch screen is now at risk of becoming a hotbed for transmitting the virus further.

3. Payphones

Now mobile phones are so widely used, the payphone was all-but-obsolete in 2019 anyway. But since epidemiology experts revealed that hard surfaces could be a source of transmission if contaminated with the agent, payphones have been given the final boot.

4. The office

There are two reasons that the usual everyday office has become redundant thanks to the shortcomings of 2020.

Firstly, like the above, the ability to catch or spread the virus by touching hard surfaces puts the office environment - which typically has high traffic in a relatively confined space - as high risk for contamination.

Secondly, with many employees forced, or encouraged to work from home during the government lockdowns, many businesses have simply realised they no longer need the space and can instead streamline their costs and overheads by having the bulk of employees work remotely instead.

5. Business cards

Those small professionally printed cards which business people used to exchange are certainly a thing of the past.

Not only are they outdated, environmentally unfriendly and expensive, they’re now also considered an unnecessary health risk.

Combine that with social distancing measures and the new era of virtual meetings, you’re not even able to exchange cards anyway.

6. The handshake

Shaking hands, which was once widely used as a formal way to meet colleagues or friends, is no longer considered safe.

In fact, Dr. Neel Gandhi, a professor of infectious diseases, epidemiology, and global health at Emory University, told ESPN that "when we talk about maximum transmission" of the coronavirus, "the hands are the place where I focus on the most."

"When we talk about the high-five and also the handshake, this is almost the perfect pathogen to spread it," Gandhi said.

Enough said - the handshake is officially obsolete.

7. Your privacy

In order to mitigate the threat of covid-19, the Australian government (along with social distancing measures, hygiene protocol, border closure etc) has implemented a range of electronic tracking measures.

Covid-19 contact tracing, symptom checkers and mandatory customer check in for many establishments is an excellent why to keep on top of the spread of the virus, but it has raised concern by many about how the measures affect our privacy.

The problem is, many of these electronic check in systems are outsourced to registration platforms which are owned by companies whose chief goal is to collect data.

Privacy and cybersecurity experts are warning that the lack of due diligence in vetting providers has left the system and the "gold standard" personal data it manages vulnerable to exploitation, news.com.au reported.

8. Keys

House and car keys are still used by many Aussies, but there are many advantages to switching to smart access instead.

While the shift is not strictly pandemic related, it does represent technological development over the past 12 months.

Being able to open doors with numerical codes would mean you can never lose your keys again.

9. Desktop computers

Given the office environment is a thing of the past, the stationary desktop computer would be too.

The shift to remote working by many Australian and global companies means employees now need portable laptop computers more than ever.

In fact, the demand for laptop computers during 2020 has gone through the roof, fueled by working and learning from home.

According to the International Data Corporation Worldwide Quarterly PC Monitor Tracker volume in the final quarter of 2020 grew 15.9% compared to the same quarter last year.

Meanwhile, global shipments far surpassed expectations at more than 37.5 million units, a number last exceeded during the third quarter of 2012.

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