by Chrysa Smith

When my husband and I talk about this constantly changing technology that lets you conduct every business and social transaction from the digital device in your pocket, I feel a sense of sadness for my son and his generation. Why? Because we’re raising a generation of hermits–with no reason to leave the house, fewer interesting stores to explore and little ‘face’ time.
It struck me again this morning when I came across a high school student’s article in my local paper. The headline: The Death of the Book? Now of course, as a writer/author who has yet to embrace the digital reader/e-book phenomenon, it smacked me square in the face. Just great! I finally found my niche and some darn techies are going to move it on me again.

So, my mind went into overdrive: How will an author sign and dedicate a book? What about the tactile experience of picking up thousands of different products, each with it’s own shape, colors, smell, visual sense? What will be on the shelves of bookstores/libraries? Will there even be bookstores/libraries?

Think about it. As a city kid growing up through the 1960’s/70’s, I would walk or bike to the candy store, which hosted a wonderful visual and olfactory display of candy that you could pick up, feel, smell. I would go to the record store, where the album covers were part of the visual appeal. You could use your hands to flip through one after another, picking each up, checking out the songs. I would go to the park on the corner, where I’d meet up with friends to play kick ball, ‘ring-o-leario’ and wile away the hours talking—doing activities together–in person. If you are a country girl, my guess is that, while your travels were different, you had some similar tactile experiences. Oh what fun we had. These generations ‘coming up’ will not share any of that. Instead of saving those favorite children’s books to pass along to future generations, are these kids going to ‘bookmark’ their favorites for their grandchildren? Instead of passing on the letters and cards sent between couples, are they going to download them and hand their kids a disc? What about those great Ray Coniff Christmas favorites? I still have the album with the silver Christmas tree on the cover—and not a working turntable. I guess they need to be downloaded onto the IPod from ITunes.
Who really believes it’s somehow better for us to conduct so many daily transactions tethered to an electronic device? It’s isolating, it lacks the need to utilize our senses, interact with human beings, experience the anticipation of getting someplace to do something that we can only do there.
The Amish were really renaissance thinkers in some ways: some of the modern developments only serve to pull people, families, communities apart–putting distance, space, time, connection between them. If this frenetic pace continues, the thoughts of embracing a technology rebellious community become more appealing. After all, who doesn’t look elegant and slimmer wearing black? Now, if only they would let me blog.