Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Personal Obsolescence

As the years pass, I find in myself an increasing amount of pity for many historical objects and creatures. Dinosaurs, for example, and Model T Fords; carrier pigeons and homemade dumplings; gas lamps and tree swings; unlocked doors and non-commercialized holidays.

What do these things have in common? They are all extinct, obsolete, old fashioned. Each of them has disappeared or been rendered useless by some new invention or changing social attitude. They are all "has beens," surpassed by something more up-to-date.

I guess my sympathy for them comes from my feeling that I, too, am steadily joining their ranks of obsolescence. I have finally had to admit to myself that I have a "pencil and paper brain" in a computerized world!

Whatever happened to bank deposit slips made out of paper and filled out with a pen? Where did handwritten love notes disappear in the avalanche of texts, tweets, and Facebook "likes"? How can you wrap up the coffee grounds in the on-line news service? Why must I have so many passwords to access my own information that I have to write them down – in the old fashioned way! – to remember them all? When was handwriting outlawed? Who thought up this "computerization conspiracy" anyway?

Technological "intelligence" is already eroding our ability to spell. If you doubt this, just try to read the "txts cnt & recd by a teen"! Will it also steal our ability to use words in writing and talking? Taken to extremes, language will become obsolete and our thumbs – rather than our tongues – will become our tools of conversation!

Yes, I have a "pencil and paper brain" in a computerized world. I may, indeed, be becoming obsolete – but I won’t go quietly! I will yell and scream and scratch chalk and my fingernails on every blackboard I can find to preserve my right to write and scribble and doodle and tap my pencil annoyingly on my desk!