How long have we been hearing that trope? Since early in this century at least. Its lore goes further back than that of course. And certainly the iPhone and its progeny continue to constrict reading space to real estate no larger than your infinitely scrollable handprint. Nonetheless, the widespread belief that we are abandoning print has more followers than Katy Perry, if such a thing is possible.
Still, humans remain a tactile mammal, what with all the thumb-pecked texts and chats we are pushing upon each other. Surely part of a smart phone’s appeal is that you can hold it, cradle it, fondle it, and use it to get in touch, stay in touch, and touch upon a world heretofore unimaginable just 20 years ago — an eon in digital time (does anyone know what heretofore means anymore?).
Yet it seems even the great standard bearers of the digital age, Millennials, have a soft spot for print. They are, I discovered, still suckers for print, and for a variety of reasons. Even Amazon, the digital colossus readying to escort us to our instant gratification future, is opening brick and mortar stores. It seems that people like the way books smell(this being the most ironic link to a product I can imagine).
Your local grocery store has a bank of magazines and racks of tabloids at the end of every checkout. They don’t appear to be going away for some reason. When something persists, it does so because enough people continue to want it, regardless of how passé we’ve been told it is.
And of course, it’s summer. And we’re sitting in the sun on a beach or a boat deck or poolside, and the brilliance of the light makes reading that damn iPhone or iPad impossible. So we sit back with a paperback, folding a corner of the page to mark our spot when the kids or some hottie or the day’s end beckons us to put aside our latest Stephen King thriller or NYT best seller so we can return to it later, lovingly — if unconsciously — delighted with our lingering analog habits that let us touch a world that can’t be reduced to an algorithm intent upon selling us something we might need or want or pestering us to post or share or like or whatever it is they’ve come up with to keep us from abandoning the internet’s pulse if only for an afternoon.
©2016 John Hofmeister • Illustration by formerfactory
What do you make of the Fourth of July — the Christmas Day of our nation, the one which separated us from Mother England, one which our forefathers wrested with pain and blood? Do you think of a near-starving, raggedly-clad patriot at Valley Forge? Perhaps a Union conscript rushing to overtake a line filled with Confederates, themselves fighting for a heritage doomed to be trampled by Freedom’s progress? The doughboy ready to rise from a mud-filled trench, running headlong toward the latest weapons and led by generals fighting the last war? Or a terrified boy of 19 about to leap into the waves off Normandy to assault Fortress Europe and evil’s hold on the soul of humankind? Maybe you see the confused son of a WWII veteran trudging through a rice paddy in the Mekong Delta, wondering what the hell he is doing there? Or the courageous post-9/11 volunteer looking to live another day as the ancient tribal madness of Afghanistan descends upon him and his buddies hoping to go home? It’s Independence Day not Memorial Day, I know. But the Freedom we proclaimed 240 years ago is preserved by those who take to arms when called. Let us always make sure that their call merits the sacrifice they have been asked to surrender. Let each of us be sure before we send the flower of our youth to defend our freedom. Nothing more is worth their sacrifice. Have a Sacred Fourth.
© 2016 John Hofmeister. Illustration by formerfactory
When I'm not writing for clients, I write about things that interest me.