Once upon a time, many years ago.........our words were written on pieces of paper.
I thought of this line yesterday, as I was reading a magazine. My mind drifted to a time when words would become artifacts in a museum. I imagined we would all walk around with little hand-held electronic pads, tapping away; reading page after page by scrolling around, quietly, with our fingertips. I wondered if our hands would evolve into different shapes, to compensate for our new, technological habits?
Of course, I know that we can't stop our world from changing, but what I will miss is the process of "doing". We learn by doing. By making mistakes, and figuring things out. By touching things, and seeing how they feel. It makes us think as we go along. If we take that away, what do we lose?
Will we have no public libraries? A comforting, communal space for those of us who don't want to own every book we read. Who don't mind sticky fingers, and a story that goes along with each book; corners folded, crumbs caught in the middle of the pages, and the mild smell of paper, cigarette smoke and dust...
I go to the library because I want to go. I know the people who work there. They tell me if they have read the book that I am checking out, or who their favorite author is. They look questioningly at me if I have a pile that seems far too serious, and they stared at my stomach when I (unsuccessfully) tried to distract them from all of the baby books. They have become a part of my life.
Magazines, though different, are just as important to me. Yes, they could be deemed a waste of time, and I know that they are filled with advertisements for things that I don't need, but I love to turn the shiny pages. I always read them from the beginning to the end, no flipping ahead to find something interesting that caught my eye on the front cover. I patiently wade my way through, never knowing what I will find. Even though I will never buy a perfume that is hidden inside a page, I will always try it, just so I can wrinkle up my nose and go "peeuuw!" To me, they are like presents; I never know what is inside, but I appreciate the gift.
If I was reading a magazine, electronically, I know that I would check the index and scroll forward to whatever caught my eye. There would be no slow pleasure, as I waited to see what the next best thing would be. I would never see the shoes that cost as much as my mortgage, or the environmental car made out of grass. My needs would be impatient, and I would never enjoy it quite as much.
I worry, that in our search for instant gratification, we will lose the art of taking our time. That efficiency will be valued over humanity, and happiness will be something we download...