Saturday, December 11, 2010


I've been reading a lot lately. Well a lot for me, anyway. I'm going through anywhere between 1 - 3 books each week. I've been asked on a few occasions if I'd like an "e-reader" for Christmas. When I was first asked, a few months ago, I was honestly more touched that anyone had noticed my new hobby, and less concerned with the actual questions. However, the more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea.
A lot of the fun in reading is picking up the book. I like the "task" of going to the library (yes, I borrow from the library), finding something new, and taking it home. I like the feeling of turning the pages. I like sitting cross-legged on my bed with a book in my lap. I like anxiously grabbing at the next page, waiting to be able to turn it. I just don't feel like I would enjoy reading if I were reading a book on a screen. Even when I read blogs I find that my style of reading completely changes. I'll skip over things, and am very easily distracted. With a book in my hand, I am in another world. I have to make a conscious effort to pull myself out of the story and interact with reality.
This got me thinking about technology in general, and how it is a completely double-edged sword. Yes, technology makes things easier, more efficient, and sometimes better. But it's also taking away a lot of life experience. Do kids know how to spell anymore? Why would they, there's always spell-check. Need to do a research paper? Who needs a library with the internet at your fingertips. Want to ask a friend a question? No need to dial the phone and have a conversation, which fosters social abilities... no no. Let's just shoot them a text, or e-mail, or facebook message, and avoid interpersonal relationships as a whole. Want to go buy groceries? Don't count on interacting with any humans while you're there, oh and while you're at it, you can complete the checkout process yourself because it's cheaper to have a "do it yourself" register than hire a cashier. Need directions? Don't fuss with a map, just type your quest into mapquest or google maps or hell, why not use your GPS. No need to know street names in your own town when you have your handy GPS to do all the thinking for you. It infuriates me - yet I completely take advantage of all of these things.
It seems to me that life is on the fast track, and I don't know how much I'm really enjoying it. There's something comforting about a book for me. It reminds me that there is still time to slow down, and enjoy something that has been a leisurely staple in society for ages. It allows me to take a time out from my phone, or facebook, or e-mail, or TV and just escape to someone else's imagination (or reality depending what I'm reading). I don't want to make it "easier", or "quicker". I like it just the way it is. Just like I enjoy chatting with a grocery clerk/cashier, and I genuinely enjoy looking at maps, and chatting with a friend on phone.
I will admit I love advances in technology that help me keep in touch. I've recently starting using Skype with Lucas to chat with John's mom who lives an hour away, and with my best friend who lives in Florida. I feel like video-chat technology is a really useful service for me. It doesn't take the place of a visit, it's not a subsitute for face time, but it does help ease the pain of missing someone. It helps me feel connected when it's just not possible to visit.
I think facebook can be a great tool to stay connected, but a lot of times I feel like it's being abused. People seem to think that they can say whatever they want while hiding behind a computer screen. I've tried to make it a rule for myself to keep anything I post on the internet as light as I can. If things do get heavy or negative, I better be ready to back them up during any face-time situation. If I wouldn't say it to your face, I'm sure not posting it on the internet. If only other people had the same common sense.
Maybe I'm just an old fart, but sometimes I wish a lot of these things just didn't exist. I mean, I can't remember much about pre-internet days. AOL was all the rage when I hit Junior High, and it's been a wildfire of growing technology since then. I just worry that Lucas and future generations will grow up in a virtual world and will miss all of the wonders of reality. I want him to ride his bike to a friends house, not play xbox live with him from across town. I want him have a paper route, not grow up having no idea what a printed newspaper looks like (as they are in danger of being outdated!). I want him to pick up a book at bedtime for me to read, not hand me a fucking e-reader that we can click together. Is that too much to ask? Simplicity? Reality???