Change is inevitable; it is the only constant we know will always be present. There will always be change in everything and in every area. We gradually progress and we want to. We want to get sleeker, more efficient, cheaper, easier, but does that mean better?
Looking for new toasters can be a challenge today. Rather than machines that you simply load bread in, slide the handle down and wait, we now have electronic marvels. We have digitized models that with a push of a button will mysteriously withdraw the toast into the heated caverns. With a pre-set schedule the toast will rise just as mysteriously as it descended. We can load bread and set it to be toasted at a later time. We can dial in the perfect brown and the perfect crisp. A toaster is no longer simply a device to brown your bread; it is now “better.”
I see the same phenomenon in many different areas; one of these is in the printed word. The trends here will have us reading from a screen rather than a page. No longer will we need to turn the page, we can program the machine to turn the page for us and at a pre-set frequency.
I like reading the newspaper. I like the smell of newsprint in my nostrils, the smear of ink on my hands and the crackle of dry paper as I leaf through it. When I read a newspaper I like to read at my own speed and my own desire. I may read the obituaries first, then the comics, then maybe I will scan the want ads and lastly go to the front page to catch the latest in world news.
I enjoy the walk out to the mailbox to pick up my daily news, and the walk back to say hi to the neighbors as they wave. The short walk gives me the opportunity to say I have had my exercise for the day.
I enjoy pulling the brightly colored adds out first and, depending on my mood, throwing them all out at once or sitting down and studying them; I have the choice. I like the sound as the paper reacts to my snapping it so the wrinkles disappear. I truly delight in snipping out my favorite pictures of the pet of the week or of my friend’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Sunday morning brings with it the ritual of the paper spread. I, being Dad, get the paper. I then distribute the comics to my grandchildren, the want ads to my adult son who is still out of work, the sports section to my school age daughter who is a promising athlete, the homes section to my dear wife who wants to see the latest recipe and I get the Front page so I can stay abreast of what is happening in our little corner of the world. Does that mean I would have to own five of those electronic wizards just to get the paper read expeditiously?
Of course, after the paper is read I fold it neatly and stack it in the corner of the garage. Here they will stay until we need them to line the puppy’s box, or to wrap the fish remains from last nights dinner, or to line the drawers of my workbench, or to start the Bar-B-Q grill for dinner, or even to “kindle” that bon fire where we will roast hotdogs tonight. The newspaper serves so much more of a purpose then what we give it credit for.
Yes, I’m going to miss the smell, the feel, the ink and the efficiency of the newspaper. But I guess it is all for a good purpose, after all we are just getting better? …aren’t we?