The Mystery of the Rotary Phone

These two 17-year-olds are smart enough to be engineering students: but can they figure out how to use a rotary phone?

We’re not making fun of them. They’ve never seen, let alone used, one of these before. And yet it wasn’t so long ago that a rotary phone was found in every American household.

This is how knowledge gets lost. And it can happen quickly.

All right, rotary phones are obsolete, we don’t need them anymore, few people still have one. The rotary phone has been replaced by more advanced technology. But much more important knowledge can get lost, without being replaced: a knowledge of history, for instance, or a grasp of civics. Thanks to our laughably inadequate “education” system, knowledge of history and civics is all but extinct. That’s why there are millions of young people who literally do not know that the law of the land, the Constitution, limits what the government is allowed to do.

We don’t need the rotary phone anymore, but we still need history and civics. And we’re quickly losing that knowledge.

We could wind up paying a very heavy penalty for that.

‘Books? Yes, We Have Books’

(From George Pal’s The Time Machine, 1960)

Watch what happens when the Time Traveler from 1900 tries to question the dull, almost brainless Eloi of almost a million years into the future. In real life, of course, thanks to public education and nearly universal collidge, we’re getting there a lot faster than H.G. Wells ever dreamed. Many of our people have already attained Eloi-hood.

Knowledge gets lost, even when it’s written down. If no effort is made to preserve it, knowledge evaporates into the past.

The Kardashians. Comic books. Movies based on comic books. Video games about zombies. University-level courses in comic books. Courses in zombie studies. Feminism. Rap music. Gender-neutral pronouns and safe spaces. Hitch ’em all to the sleigh and they’ll take you straight to Eloi country.

In The Time Machine, the Eloi do serve a purpose: the Morlocks, who dwell in darkness underground, eat them.

What purpose is served by a 25-year-old living at home with Momma while he works for his bachelor’s degree in Gender Studies?