5 ‘normal’ things that are actually outdated by M. Pitter

1. Shoelaces: Shoelaces have been apart of human wear for thousands of years. The exact date for when shoelaces came about is undefined. But one of the earliest dated shoes with shoelaces has been labeled the Areni-1 Shoe. The recorded data around its excavation in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia states that this laced shoe is over 5000 years old. You’d think that by now, 2013, we humans would have developed different methods like a series of hooks, magnetic seals or maybe even some sort of an electronic fastener mechanism. Think about it: You’ll find many possibilities.

2. Chivalry: Chivalry is the authority by which “gentlemen” and “ladies” interact in specific ways prescribed by historical situations, ideals and attitudes. A man is to give a woman special treatment whether it be holding the door for her, letting her go first to join a queue, boarding a train, giving up a seat on the train or entering a corridor, providing compliments and, generally, making life easier for the lady. Simultaneously, chivalry justifies an inequality between the sexes resembling a sort of benevolent sexism. This socio-cultural attribute rests on the belief that women need a specialized environment; they are supposedly unfit to withstand the natural elements subject to men or natural people. Chivalry comes from a time when women could be snatched up and made to ‘multiply’ (as they say in the Bible) for her male assailant(s). Social conditions and interactions developed extensively over time to yield today: an environment where women are not as vulnerable as they once were. But still: If I don’t hold the door for a woman, then I’m considered an asshole (in some cases). I am to act on the belief that the chore of opening a door is far too arduous for a ‘lady’. And then in another situation: If I and a lady are standing side by side before the exit of a room, and I walk out first, thwarting the lady’s chances of exiting first (as chivalry demands), then I become a person who lacks ‘proper manners’. Here, I am to act on the belief that if I leave a space before a ‘lady’, then I have put her in danger of perhaps never reaching her destination expediently enough. This behavior between the sexes continues while the necessity has shrunk massively over the course of centuries and centuries. So, may chivalry die to introduce equality between the sexes.

3. Mirrors: The concept of a mirror is very simple. Its use by humans go back over 8000 years. They were inspired by naturally occurring phenomena such as water, or volcanic obsidian rock and more. Today we rely heavily on mirrors when we drive automobiles. And then of course, we have other needs from mirrors, however, these needs are located in moments of our lives that are less life threatening than driving. Like making sure your teeth are white or your eyes aren’t red…

It may be a surprise to some that our continued use of mirrors wasn’t replaced by another effective method of capturing a view of the contents behind us in constant real-time. The mirror has worked so well for so long that using another type of object is unnecessary and perhaps undesirable. We take these ancient tools for granted every second of our days while we believe that we’re disconnected from our past. In the end, our senses and our modern brains are composed of the same materials and quantities as the ones of our ancestors thousands of years ago. So much of what worked for them, works for us as well. Mirrors are normal and useful; they also originate in ‘pre-history’. Still, we boast about our ultra-advanced technological world.

4. The Second Amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”): In recent days, this document has been the center of much controversy. The murders in the Sandy Hook, Connecticut elementary school tipped gun law reform into the realm of priority. Every now and then, a school (/movie theater) shooting will itch at the American People and cause them question or re-evaluate their stance on having such powerful guns in the hands of civilians. During the interim of the widely broadcasted domestic shootings, there are a pitifully high number of murders whether homicides or suicides by people who are not militia men: the people for whom the 2nd Amendment was written. This document was written in the heat of a situation around 237 years ago. It would be silly to believe that the situation back then exists now. Therefore, the Second Amendment may be an outdated document unable to stand for who the American People are today.

5. Faith: Whether a person is Christian, Muslim, Atheist or Jewish, he or she makes a claim of their religious identity. He or she expresses zeal in defending his or her beliefs. This behavior of joining a group is old fashioned. It’s not necessarily right or wrong. It’s old fashioned. Having faith in The Undefinable and in the knowledge of one’s correctness in this belief has been a human attribute for an undefinable myriad of years. An entity of our universe so great, so powerful, so absolute, so ubiquitous couldn’t possibly be discussed in words, configured in the constructs of the human mind or explained in the context of human experience. Attitudes and ideologies based on this human faith faculty have historically proven destructive but still it exists as a common human attribute to believe in something without really knowing it and defending that belief to the death.

Author: Michael

is a recent graduate of Boston University, where he received the Gregory Hudson Award for Writing Excellence in the Humanities. He studied English Literature, History and Philosophy. To Michael, In Parentheses functions as an established, intellectual environment where art and current events share equal relevance.

10 thoughts

  1. Hmmm, I’d say politics is pretty similar to number 5, exchanging the “Undefinable” with whatever the end goal of politics is, not sure if there is one. Maybe thousands of years from now your great great great times a thousand times ancestor will start his own magazine and write those same lines about politics.

    1. Well, people have faith in politics, money, God and other things. Faith is an activity whereas politics, money and God are the objects.

  2. The shoe lace and the mirror represent the same thing in my mind. They are simple tools that we developed when our understanding of the world was also very simple. So why do we still use them?

    First, the shoe lace. I love this one, because it is a testament to simplicity. What are shoe laces? They are mechanical fasteners that we use to hold an awkward shaped combination of rubber and fabric on an equally awkward shaped organ. They are strong and flexible, and they take on whatever shape you need them to take, be it tall boots, small loafers, or anything in between. They can be adjusted for a tighter or looser fit in just a moments time, and they will rarely break. All that, and they will be equally as effective no matter how wet, dirty, or damaged they become (If a shoe lace breaks, you can always just tie it back together).

    There are actually many alternatives at our disposal that might dethrone the ubiquitous shoe lace. As interesting as a thought experiment in alternative shoe fasteners might be (I’m looking at you, electronic shoes), they haven’t and probably never will replace the shoe lace, because they can’t do the same job as effectively and with such grace and flexibility.

    Mirrors. Mirrors do two things very well: reflect light and let you see your lines of coke. Again, this is an example of something so simple that we have yet to replace it. That isn’t to say that we are still using the same mirrors that we were using 6000 years ago. The type of mirror you probably have in your bathroom wasn’t invented until around the mid 19th century. The real majesty of the mirror is not what we do with it — those things are straight forward — but rather how we actually make it.

    The mirror may seem like a simple object, but the manufacturing process requires a sophisticated understanding of material science and optics. They simply would not be as effective, cheap, or ubiquitous as they are today without the major advancements in glass manufacturing that we have made in the past century. We would be hard pressed to find decent alternatives too, I think. Quality mirrors would still be a novelty item for those who could afford them. If you also want to talk about the mirrors that make things appear closer than they really are, that is another story altogether. It’s one thing to manufacture a flat sheet of glass, but it is another to manufacture convex glass that upholds a minimum level of optical quality. It’s all material science. The IDEA has existed for thousands of years, but its taken us this long to perfect it.

    My objective is not to be pedantic and disagree with you about simple things, but you struck a nerve when you implied that these simple technologies were antiquated because they are simple and old and when you used them as evidence that we are not as technologically advanced as some people might chalk us up to be. Many pieces have to fall into place for something to reach your house, and often those things are not nearly as simple as the things themselves. The 10p nail itself is not revolutionary, but the ability to mass produce and mass distribute them so that I can buy 500 for less than an hours wage instead of making them myself is.

    So my rhetorical question to you is, why do we still do these things? I ask, because I think in order for something to be antiquated, its purpose must no longer be relevant to our cause.

    1. Patrick,

      Thank you very much for your input. As rhetorical as your question was, I will attempt to answer it nonetheless. We still use these things because we’ve yet to find reasons to reject them for other devices. They have maintained their usefulness and convenience such that choosing other things in place of them would not make sense.

  3. Agreed faith is useless given God has pretty much been proven not to exist, but disagree on the second amendment, As long as a woman need to carry a gun to protect herself from rape, the second amendment remains necessary.

    1. Faith is not useless. I think Michael confuses faith with religious belief. Faith in itself is necessary in our everyday lives. Whether it be faith in ourselves, faith in other people, faith in work, in government, etc. Faith is what enables us to go out the door everyday, to pursue our aspirations. A better subtitle for 5 would have been Religion, because that is what Michael is talking about. But faith in itself, in its essence, is as necessary as our very breathing. Everyone has faith, whether they know it or not. Which is what makes it easy( to a degree) to believe in God. Because everyone has faith in something that they do not see. Like I mentioned above, in order to be an active social citizen we need to have faith that the laws we are all subjected to exist as a force. No one sees that force. It’s most certainly not the police or politicians or government, but a social contract that we make, a sort of understood agreement we make between ourselves and others.

      1. You bring up good points Garth. Perhaps, I was a bit pessimistic. Faith in faith is not all that bad or useless.

  4. Mirrors are still too useful to be whole sale replaced. They are better than lenses for the objective optical part of big telescopes. Since the best telescopes are reflectors, mirrors are not yet outdated. Note that space telescopes use mirrors.

    Shoelaces are a different story. They are always coming undone, so any advantage is negated when they do so. Velcro is a lot better but looks ugly. The best of both is one strip of Velcro at the top unused holes to seatbelt the knot and long pants hide the Velcro strip.

enter the discussion:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s