Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Plague of Technology

I am generally a fairly optimistic person who loves everyone and likes feeling all mindful and zen and grateful.

Today isn't one of those days.

Today is one of those days where people are flaky, everyone irritates me, and I feel like I'm surrounded by morons.

Today is one of those days where I texted my holed-up-at-home friend to say, "Be glad you can't go out among humans today. Idiots. All of them."

Maybe it's the in-the-crapper economy, but there are times, like today, when I am driving around in the gray, cold weather through several towns, and looking at foreclosed homes, bankrupt corporate closings, and boarded up small businesses that prompt me to look at my husband and say, "Do you ever feel like you're living in a post-apocalyptic world?"

It's like the freaking Hunger Games out there! Except it's not fantasy and it's not in a novel. It's the 21st century and it's real life. This is not what Marty McFly told us would happen. Where is my space suit? My flying car? The dust-repellent paper?

Yes, dust-repellent paper. Look it up. That's what they had invented. Dust-repellent paper. For books.

You know, books? Remember them? Weighty in your hand, cute covers, a summary blurb on the back, pages you could flip, words on paper?

Now I hear people saying things like, "Uh-oh! I can't read my book. I have to charge my reader!" Bah. (Cue geezer voice) Back in my day, we didn't need those new-fangled contraptions and wires and chargers. We just read books! Books don't need batteries!

Welcome to 2012. Books are disappearing. Movies are disappearing. Book stores are disappearing. Video stores are disappearing. You get the idea.

I feel like life is changing SO fast.

Don't get me wrong. Netflix is great. And instant downloads from Amazon and iTunes are handily instantaneous. But I used to LOVE walking through Blockbuster and browsing through all the movies (back in my day, they were VHS tapes, eventually they were DVDs, now they're intangible download files) and picking them in my hands, flipping them over, reading about them, looking at the pictures on the cover, and deciding if I'd take a chance on that film and maybe get a winner for movie rental night.

Now we look at computer screens and browse through lists and pixelated images. Again, I love that I can read reviews, check out what others have to say, and see the star rating on IMDB (one of my very favorite websites). But there are no more video stores.

We got to take our kids to Blockbuster when they were about 2 and 5, but not really since then, because all the stores went away. So, they're growing up not getting to know what it's like to stroll down those blue-carpeted aisles and browse those long, filled shelves.

There are wonderful things about everything going digital, to be sure. And I try to embrace that. But I also get nostalgic for the old days. I'm still in denial about digital photos vs. prints and I'm barely getting over the transition from tapes to CD. I miss my cassette walkman and now it's all about mp3 players. Handy and amazing and can do so so much more, but I miss holding the music in my hands.

That's another thing I used to love - browsing record stores. Yes, records. They had dust jackets, too. Hmph.

As of two months ago, we now live in a county with NO bookstore. Not a single one. And those lame-o, piddly nothing offerings at Wal-mart hardly count.

(Don't get me started on Wal-mart).

No movies, no tapes, no books, stores closing, no more browsing . . . everything is going onto individual electronic devices. Everyone is walking around with headphones in their own worlds, apart from everyone else. People don't even watch television together anymore!

We're pretty old-fashioned that way, I guess. We watch shows together as a family-- Amazing Race, X-Factor, Modern Family (HILARIOUS episode yesterday, by the way - I laughed so hard when they auto-tuned Phil), American Idol, and yes, even Netflix streaming (great documentaries and movies and now we know what "Phineas and Ferb" is since we don't have cable) -- in the same room, sitting on the same couch, watching the same screen. And a little shout out for TiVo -- best. new. digital. invention. ever.

Again, there are up sides of the new technology, but I miss so much about the "olden ways." The days when you could hold the books, the movies, the music. The days when you could browse the shelves and shelves of options. Now we click a mouse.

We are living in a world where every store makes you apply for those stupid little keychain cards to shop and get discounts (I think I may have more of these stupid keychain tabs than keys on my ring). Why can't they just keep the stupid little cards and give me the discount?!? That would be a WHOLE lot more impressive.

Oh, but wait. Then they wouldn't be able to garner my information and track my shopping and habits. Big brother and all of that. See? Post-apocalyptic. Bleh.

So, whine, complain, moan. I miss book stores and video stores and books and paper and CDs. It's inevitable. It's all going digital. And I long for dust-repellent paper, so I can hold books in my hands. And walk through a bookstore with my husband and kids.

Maybe I just need a DeLorean and Mr. Fusion.


Emily Foley said...

The only book store in our county was a Waldenbooks that was affiliated with Borders apparently, and it disappeared a few months after we moved here. One of my favorite dates was going out to dinner and then browsing the book store. I could do it for hours. I like kindles for the sole reason of not enough space for books in our house, but other than that, I much prefer real books. But I don't miss buying CDs or tapes or records...the clutter of it all drives me crazy. I love mp3 players!

Another thing I worry about is losing all of my pictures. I haven't actually had pictures printed since we went to Disneyland in 2008, so if my hard drive crashes (and the external too) we have no pictures of the past 4 years. Yikes.

Dr. Mark said...

I still can't believe we have no bookstore, and you're right about the Walmart book section. Nothing there unless you like Amish romance novels. I kid you not. They are a thing.

I miss the sound of a scratchy record, especially old jazz recordings. I'm so glad that a few of my CDs actually retained that without "remastering" them.

You're right about the feel of books. There is nothing quite like it.

bythelbs said...

I hear you.

I can't bring myself to buy a Kindle or other e-reader because I love books. Real, honest to goodness, paper books. I love to read them. I love to look at them. I even love to smell them. Well, maybe not LOVE to smell them. But certainly enjoy. The smelling. Or something.

The Walmart book section is appalling.

kristenhcubed said...

I totally get this. Both sides of your internal debate. Nathan got me a kindle last year and I almost never use it because I just like the feel of a book in my hands...and I don't have time to read. But I can't live without my phone...

And Mark...the Amish have romance novels? Are they very plain?

Dr. Mark said...

I've never actually opened one of the Amish romance novels, but my understanding is they are quite chaste.

Dave Johnson said...

I didn't need to know that Amish romance novels exist. I really didn't. I'm picturing a very awkward scene from Bad Teacher now. Blllrrr.....

I fear for libraries. The smell and personality of each one I visit. They are my last refuge against the onslaught of the digital age. I too love my Kindle and my .mp3 player, especially now that I'm travelling. But being able to look up at a shelf of books is almost what makes a house into a home for me, and I really, really miss my Discworld and Star Wars collections.

Mark - I also tend toward buying CD's that are not "remastered" because unless it's done right, it sucks the warmth out of the recording. I think original recordings, white noise, too much reverb and all, serve to reflect the personality of the room in which the music was recorded. Auto-tune and ridiculous amounts of compression are eradicating all that, and I'm sad for it.

In honor of this post, I'm going to start wearing the pockets inside-out on my pants.

Boquinha said...

Yes, Emily! That's just it. We can take HUNDREDS of digital pictures, so we all do. But remember when we used to have a limit of 24 and then you'd develop them and get doubles and keep the negatives? Ah, the good old days. :P And some people don't even print pictures. They just do digital scrapbooks and even those aren't always printed! Ugh!

Mark, agreed about the scratchy sounds.

Lbs, yes! I'm so sad. I see ereaders taking over in ways that frighten me. I worry that soon there will truly be NO ACTUAL BOOKS.

Kristen, yep. Conflicted. So conflicted. Like a walking dichotomy.

Yes, Dave -- helps makes a house a home. Agreed! And? I hate auto tuning. It's hideous.