Newspapers and Blackberries

learnedbooksA discussion this morning on the local radio station between the two hosts prompted me to consider their topic for the debate. One radio-heads captioned his vacation by adding that he and his kids didn’t have a all that of a  good time because the internet service in their hotel was down for a few days.

As the conversation subsides, the topic starting to tail off, the Radio voice retelling his vacation ups and downs concludes, almost asking the audience, “what would the world be like if your ability to read email and news over the internet just ceased to exist?”

What WOULD it be like? Well, without the need for a Hollywood budget or research supplied by Mathematicians and Economists at MIT, I’ll foster my own opinion of what our “snag and bag” information glutton society would  be like.

Think the 1980s.

Hypothetically speaking, if something of this magnitude were ever to occur it would revitalize the newspaper market–if not place a renewed sense of gratutitde for the industry from the populous that had otherwise abandoned it.

Right now, we as 21st Century citizens are enticed by receiving, transmitting, and sharing information digitally–at any moments notice–before or during a conversation at dinner sometimes. But there has to be some morale barometer in this hypothetical scenario. I mean, do I honestly feel that a momentary drop in wireless service or a down internet is enough to force people to minimize their baby-to-teet fascination with new text messages/emails/rss bumps/picture mail, and embrace other aspects of getting information or living?

No.

I recall a time, not too long ago, when I healthfully read the newspaper during my first few years in College, as it was pushed on us by our Economics Professor as “important, and your constitutional right.”  I would nibble on the New York Times on my commute from New York City to Teaneck, New Jersey, and then wash it down with a tall order of the Wall Street Journal. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s some right-sided elitist literature you got there..”, but I guess my Professor’s hopes were that we improved our vocabulary and immersed ourselves in the current events of the times. I can even go back further and recall the days in Elementary up on through to Middle School that it was a requirement in our curriculum for each student to spend at LEAST an hour a week in the library reading.

Reading. Not talking, just reading.

Today, you’ll find it hard pressed to find someone actually reading news on their mobile devices or notebook computers, but instead preoccupied with multiple tabbed windows of content or some mind-numbing, albeit ADHD surging software running in the background( e.q. Facebook, Tumblr, AIM).

Before, it was about absorption, retention and sharing information between friends, near or far. But now, because we now expect it, information, how it is transported, is sometimes used less for it’s purpose, and more of a selling point by marketers to bait us into attaining something that can hold or dispense more of it.

How is this possible? Well…

  • It’s standard on most mobile devices to allow syncing to multiple email accounts.
  • It’s standard on most mobile devices to accept third party applications, by which one might be able to access all his content via an RSS program.
  • It’s standard on most accounts, that all mobile devices have supplied with them, as a service, unlimited text messaging or picture mail( whichever).

Why are our 3.5 inch devices gutted to the last notch on the belt with all these nuances of distraction? I mean, isn’t a mobile device for making and receiving phone calls? When did the newspaper, and all it’s well written content, fall so far down the totem poll of importance that it’s better suited as liner for Polly’s cage? Easy, by default companies know we are whores for the new thing, they employ marketing psychologists to know that when it comes to finding, accessing, and sharing information we’d rather sometimes do it right from out toilet seat.

I’m getting off topic here; pumping my fist at the Sun isn’t going to make it any less hotter. My point is this: if removed from what we expect, do we respect the processes that led us here? Most high schools don’t read newspapers( magazines don’t count as material subjects on current events.Most are merely eyecandy or ego-stimulators wrapped in a suit or dress out of GQ or Cosmo). Some regard “reading” as boring–and yet they can spend the day texting or chatting online. I will admit, technology has taken the chore out of busywork, but it has also fostered a culture by where if our mobile device is down or there isn’t any internet service in the hotel room, our entire day is shot.

Life doesn’t have a wireless provider. Life shouldn’t come with 2 year agreements. Life doesn’t ask for third party applications, nor is it obsolete in 6 months.

There has to be a greater sense of “ahhh, thank you, but no thank you.” when an email or text message chirps  on our mobile device or computer while on vacation. I mean, it’s not healthy to attach oneself to this beautiful vehicle we( well, 3/4’s of the Planet anyway) have access to.

I don’t devote so much of my life on feverishly holding onto my Blackberry when I walk around malls anymore, as I see the technology dependent on me, and not the other way around. I use to, but not anymore. I use to be bad about not being able to check my email or receive messages, but then when I think about it I was less stressed and more happier when I existed off the grid.  It serves it’s purpose, allows me to stay connected with information sometime necessary to work.But it also serves as a reminder, a scoundrel of sorts, reminding me how much of the day I can waste away, pushing enjoyment back into the corner, if I allow this digital contraption to wrestle free from it’s box.

I can’t see myself surrounded by friends, in paradise, idly chatting away on my cellphone or growing disgruntle because my internet access isn’t barely moving the MBPS meter.

“it” should never be about that.

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2 thoughts on “Newspapers and Blackberries

  1. So true..as you know i just went through the “no internet access in my hotel room.” I must say it was pretty annoying at first, but after much complaining, I grabbed my book and actually read halfway through it. It reminded me of the days b4 I owned a laptop..this obsession with being online is keeping me from actually doing something i have always loved…reading a good novel…the old fashioned way.

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  2. I’ve been so stressed lately about not being able to pay my cell phone bill. The fact that my father wouldn’t be able to contact me worried me. After reading this I feel a lot more comfortable with it. I had a conversation with a friend of mine about cell phones a while back. He only had a simple phone that was only used for phone calls and he was getting sick of having it and eventually broke it(Details undisclosed). He didn’t have his phone for a while and he hated it and in turn got a new one. He lost that one over a period of time and then said he didn’t mind it so much and that he found his phone frustrating. So I could understand having the worry of being without it, it’s like a nightmare in this day and age, but I think that given time everyone would be able to adjust.

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