This evening and for the second time in one week, I entered a local Blockbuster store only to find that it was closing its doors forever. The employees, all familiar faces after years of loyal patronage, have no definitive futures. Every tangible item is available at fire-sale prices; those of us who expressed regret over losing a favorite local haunt were offered online memberships at a fraction of the typical monthly fees. Earlier this week, I drove to my neighborhood Barnes and Noble only to learn that they, too, were in the process of closing; electronic books, complete with virtual humans perpetually willing to read on your behalf, have all but replaced the printed word.
While there is certainly an ecological advantage to minimizing the use of paper, it saddens me that my three-year old niece may never actually share in the experience of wandering the isles of a bookstore or turning a real page; I certainly pray that those few, brave souls who keep their small stores open amidst the conglomerates hold out for her and her peers.
This is not meant to depress you, but to open your eyes to the fact that the tangible world is rapidly deteriorating. Social media websites, technologies such as text messaging and email…while powerful tools for disseminating information, have all but closed individuals off from regular human contact. “I talked to my friend” now needs further delineation to ascertain as to whether or not voice was used in the conversation, rather than thumbs and a miniature keyboard.
At the risk of calling upon my years in psychology, I worry we are creating a generation of agoraphobic individuals incapable of relating on an interpersonal level. I pray that my worry is unfounded.
To those of you who share my concern, pledge the following along with me: Resolve to maintain contact with the tangible. Resolve to use your phone more for its originally intended purpose than simply as a medium for transmitting text-based messages. Resolve to continue shaking hands with colleagues, to hug your friends and loved ones as often as possible. Resolve to touch the wood floor of your studio or practice space as often as possible, to move your body away from the desk more than just at lunchtime and at the end of the workday. Finally, resolve along with me to ensure that your children or future children understand that the World Wide Web is not the world within which we should live our daily lives.
Keep in touch.
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