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A 17-year-old from Baltimore just caused millennials on Twitter to plunge into a very early midlife crisis.
Alyssa Lucas posted an innocuous question on Oct. 20, and within hours her notifications were flooded. The question was simple, and completely understandable if you remember being taught yourself. “Maybe it’s just the generation z in me but how did people burn CDs? Like how did you just get a blank CD and put songs on it?” Lucas asked the Twitter masses, expecting perhaps a dozen responses.
Instead, hundreds of millennials saw her post and had the same realization in tandem: We’re old.
Maybe its just the generation z in me but how did people burn CDs? Like how did you just get a blank CD and put songs on it? pic.twitter.com/EVUVaDX645— alyssa (@tamaranians) October 21, 2018
It is probably safe to say that no one over the age of 25 made it through childhood without burning at least one CD. Most of us were likely taught how to burn CDs by an older sibling, or perhaps a more tech-savvy friend. The process was pretty simple, as people on Twitter were quick to point out.
“We’d buy like 100 blank CDs at a time,” one user responded. “You take one out, insert it into a disc drive, put together a playlist in iTunes (there were always like 3 songs you’d put on every playlist because you were obsessed with them), select ‘burn CD’ from a drop down, and then wait 20 minutes.”
As for the actual science behind burning disks, it is a touch more complicated. According to TechTerms, the word “burn” is used literally, as “the CD-writer, or burner, literally burns the data onto a writable CD.”
The data is burned onto the disk using a laser, which can be used to “engrave thousands of 1’s and 0’s onto a CD,” which combine to make the tracks on those classic mixtapes we all recall so fondly.
We’d buy like 100 blank CDs at a time. You take one out, insert it into a disc drive, put together a playlist in iTunes (there were always like 3 songs you’d put on every playlist because you were obsessed with them), select “burn CD” from a drop down, and then wait 20 minutes.— Lindsay Katai (@lindsaykatai) October 23, 2018
And then your playlist of Incubus, Dave Matthews, Portishead, Ja Rule, Kelly Clarkson, and Jimmy Eat World would be RUINED.— Lindsay Katai (@lindsaykatai) October 24, 2018
the real hustle: get the cds you want from the library and upload them to itunes, put in a blank cd and hit burn in itunes and bam. got those hits for free. blank cds are kinda like a usb when you’re thinking about it, just a slightly different download process— katie d. (◡‿◡✿) (@kdisharo) October 22, 2018
Though there were certainly some helpful tweets thrown in, most of the responses Lucas got came from baffled millennials trying to wrap their heads around feeling old, in many cases for the first time. Lucas told the Daily Dot via email that the question first occurred to her in a Best Buy, where she overheard a conversation about the changing times. Her mother used to burn mixtapes, she said, but had never passed the knowledge on to her.
For the most part, people were friendly—if not a bit taken aback—in their responses, she said.
“Some people got much more in depth and then some seemed genuinely upset and thought I was an idiot or ‘too young for Twitter,'” Lucas said. “I definitely feel like a lot of people adequately answered my question. I feel like I’ve gotten all the ins and outs I could need to burn a cd.”
TBH, it was a joyful thing when the song you wanted came on and you hit the record button and you knew that you had it ... Then the DJ talked over the last minute of the song and you cried.— simon kearns (@SimonGKearns) October 23, 2018
God I’m so fucking old— Tana Lea (@thetanalea) October 22, 2018
Is this what getting old feels like?!? https://t.co/l7KiQGXr0W— Breanna Danielle (@ItsBreDanielle) October 21, 2018
I'm nine million years old https://t.co/9nkjhyDcFQ— Whit Follows (@whitneyarner) October 22, 2018
We remember the viruses we got better.— AUGMENTED BISCUITS (@incogNietBRO) October 23, 2018
YOU WOULDN’T STEAL A CAR— mia | 115 (@introvertsdan) October 19, 2018
YOU WOULDN’T STEAL A PURSE
YOU WOULDN’T STEAL A TELEVISION
YOU WOULDN’T STEAL A CELLPHONE
YOU WOULDN’T STEAL A MOVIE
Lucas even provided a “safe space” for other young folks to come out and admit that they too had never burned a CD. They can probably manage modern technology much better than anyone who remembers how many batteries a boombox needs, however, so they are doing just fine.
I'm your age and I don't understand it either sis. You're not alone.— C O R Y (@lacsquirt) October 23, 2018
omg same and i still don’t know h o w— esme’s rhodey ♡ (@carolbxrnes) October 23, 2018
As is always the case with the internet, not everyone was pleasant. Though dozens reached out to offer what little they knew about the process of burning a disk, others felt the need to go after Lucas for daring to pose the question at all.
I mean damn. There’s hundreds and it just keeps going lmaoooooooooo pic.twitter.com/D0AiA1Y0NR— alyssa (@tamaranians) October 22, 2018
Did you not expected to be *jumped to hell and back* when you Tweeted this?— Stephanie Myles (@StefMylesTennis) October 23, 2018
Even at 17, I'm sure you could figure that out. I mean, if you spend any time on social media AT ALL.
Why not Google it next time and save yourself the imaginary angst.
Though she admitted she will probably never burn a CD, as most computers don’t even come with disk drives anymore, Lucas said she was glad to better understand the process. She said streaming seems to her to be the most unique form of technology that we have right now, but even that is likely to change soon. She believes that self-serving technology is on the rise.
“I feel like the advancements in technology make it seem like time is going much faster,” she said. “Like for my age range, rental services like Blockbuster and Redbox were very popular and after what some might seem a really short period of time, Blockbuster has completely shut down and Redbox has become quite obsolete.”
Lucas pointed out that technology only a few years old can seem much older because of its constant state of evolution.
“I don’t think that we should be upset or afraid of how quickly technology changes or how the things we used to do are becoming obsolete, because with good intentions technology could make things easier for so many people,” Lucas said.
Millennials might have to spend a few days feeling ancient because of her tweet, but it is about time we started resenting the younger generation for, well, being younger. Once, we were the kids with the new tech and the fresh knowledge, but as Lucas’ tweet showed, that time has passed.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.