Seinfeld, 30 Years Later, Part 3: Society Now!, and What Consumer, I’m The Consumer?!

Seinfeld, 30 years later: society and consumerism

The conclusion of this series marks the 30th anniversary of the end of Seinfeld’s first season, which aired on June 21, 1990. For the third part, I examine the many ways our societal norms have changed, from longer life expectancy to how we interact with each other to consumer habits.

This three part series is organized by topic:

Part One: The Un-Branding, Dunkers & Dictators, and The Mom & Pop Stores

Part Two: Hot Wizards With Many Functions, and Sweet Rides

Part Three: Society Now!, and What Consumer, I’m The Consumer?!


Society Now!

The year is 1990: you fall into a coma. You wake up three decades later, only to find that smoking has been banned in buildings and public spaces, no one’s running away to join the circus, and you’ll never need to walk out your door to rent a movie again.

Plot points ruined by cell phones

As mentioned in Part 2, cell phones and the internet’s ubiquity have been so transformative that many Seinfeld plot lines no longer make sense. The difference in how we communicate from three decades ago is significant enough to deserve its own section.



What Consumer, I’m The Consumer?!

With the digitization of media, we have more convenience and choice of content than ever. A few decades ago it you’d drop off a roll of film at the one hour photo store on your way to the mall to shop for the world’s cheapest air conditioner. Today, you take a photo, post it to your Instagram account, then comparison shop A/C units on Amazon. Done.


That’s a wrap!

The past few decades have been monumental for human civilization, with ways we do business and how we consume having been completely transformed by the Digital Age. While entire industries have been forced to either evolve or become extinct, we have more conveniences, more ways to communicate, more options for making transactions, an order of magnitude of choices for entertainment and nearly limitless information available at our fingertips.

So it strikes me as fortuitous that Seinfeld made its mark right on the cusp of a gigantic societal transition. Considering the way the show was written and performed, I seriously doubt that it could be made today… regardless, there will certainly never be another like it. The “situations” part of this sitcom may be a snapshot of the time it lived in, but its brand of humor is really one for the books.



Society Now!
Bank tellers are a dying profession
Technology is eliminating bank teller jobs
Workplace smoking laws
New York Anti-Smoking Law
Seinfeld “The Baby Shower” episode air date
Soviet Union collapse milestones
Cell phone subscriptions by year
Mobile phone ownership over time
Missouri unemployment eligibility requirements
Decline of newspaper ad revenue
Decline of handwritten letters
Decline of cursive handwriting
Murphy Brown broadcast history
Cheers broadcast history
LA Law broadcast history
Updated legality of Cuban cigars
The death of soap operas
Young And The Restless leads dying genre
Life expectancy data over 150 years
Life expectancy interactive timeline
History of barber poles
Legacy of barber poles
Decline of barber pole sales
Decline of the traditional barber shop
Barber shops have been declining for four decades
How computers have changed the labor market
Computer skills are a must in the modern workforce
Professional workforce by the numbers
History of the cigar store indian
Some consider cigar store indians offensive
Church membership sharply declined in two decades
Millennials are leaving religion
Miss America viewership decline
Miss America ends swimsuit competition
DVD sales drop over 86% in 13 years
The circus says goodbye to elephants
Ringling Bros bids farewell
Retired Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloons
Woody Woodpecker balloon no longer meets size restrictions
Woody Woodpecker balloon collapse footage
Melrose Place broadcast history
Melrose Place reboot broadcast history
American Gladiators broadcast history
American Gladiators reboot broadcast history
American Gladiators shopped around for 2nd reboot

What Consumer, I’m The Consumer?!
How technology is changing the publishing industry
Book publishing industry trends
What big publishing consolidation means for authors
Circulation and revenue falls for newspaper industry
Employment trends in newspaper and periodicals publishing
RIP Cracked Magazine
Penthouse Magazine is still in print
How New Yorkers are fighting to save newsstands
Greeting cards lose sales in the digital age
Greeting card chain Papyrus closes all stores
JVC Zero 6 floor speakers
Mobile ad revenue passes traditional broadcast in 2018
TV ads decline, digital growth soars
The death of malls is about more than shopping
The spectacular decline of checks
The rise of mobile payments is an unstoppable trend
Microwaves pushed popcorn poppers out of the market
Microwave oven market approaching $13 billion
The trend away from paper to plastic milk containers
TV Guide stays profitable by cutting circulation
History of the TV Guide empire
Example of stereograms
Stereogram posters
Moviefone hangs it up for good
$20 bill, 1990-1998 issue design and security features
$20 bill design, 2003 – present
Cable TV sinks as streaming services soar
Cable TV loses 3.2 million subscribers in 2018
Federal Reserve Payments study on noncash payments
Statistics on the rise of cryptocurrency
Cash payments are losing dominance
There are less than 200 one hour photo stores in the US
Streaming killed video store chains
The life and death of the American arcade
The last arcades of New York City

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