I hear a lot of whining about how technology is ruining the way humans interact with each other, and frankly, I think that’s crap. This is something I’ve been irritated by for awhile, and I finally decided to write about it because of a typically whiny blog post I saw the other day. Basically, this person is 100% wrong about everything, and I am going to tell you exactly why.
First, some background. Last week, the news broke that the bookstore chain Borders was going to be liquidated. This sparked all kinds of discussion on the ol’ interwebs about whether or not the demise of Borders could be blamed on the rise of ebooks. The blog post that triggered my irritation took the position that Borders was indeed killed by ebooks, and the author was lamenting this fact. Not because Borders was so wonderful, but because bookstores in general are wonderful. Which they are, so I guess this person isn’t wrong about EVERYTHING, but she is wrong about almost everything.
First of all, ebooks are pretty much superior in every way to paper books. Ebooks are generally cheaper, they’re easier to obtain, and they take up a minimal amount of digital bits rather than physical space on a book shelf. As the owner of a small house, this last point cannot be emphasized enough. I had pretty much given up on buying books for years before I got a Kindle, in large part because I’ve run out of places to put them. Now, all of my books can live on my Kindle, and if my Kindle ever gets full, then my extra books can live in the cloud. Eventually, I plan to replace all of my paper books with ebooks, and then I’ll really have some extra space in my house.
The author of this post makes a big deal out not being able to touch an ebook. Seriously? Who fracking gives a crap? I hate holding books. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve found the actual act of holding a book in order to read it to be obnoxious and annoying. Books are heavy and awkward to hold. Why would I want to carry a big, heavy pile of dead tree around when I can carry a thin piece of plastic instead?
Besides, when I go on a trip, I used to have to bring a whole bunch of books with me or else risk running out of things to read. Usually this meant I ended up with a big pile of books that I never touched, because I always overestimated the number of books I could read. But with a Kindle, this isn’t an issue, because I can take my entire collection of books with me wherever I go. So eat that, dead trees!
So anyway, the next thing I take issue with in this blog post is this person’s assertion that the demise of bookstores means the demise of people talking about books. What? I mean, WHAT? I don’t understand why conversations about books can only take place in the confines of a bookstore. See, there’s this little thing that was just invented. Maybe the author of this post has heard of it before. It’s called THE INTERNET!! It’s probably the most powerful communication tool ever invented by humankind. Why in the world does this person think that people couldn’t possibly talk about books on the internet?
This speaks to my greater irritation with this person and people like her. So many people seem to think that the rise of the internet will lead to or is leading to the death of human interaction. Are you fracking kidding me? If anything, the internet is AIDING human interaction. The internet opens the doors to a level of quantity and quality of interaction with other humans that pre-internet generations could only dream about. Heck, the only reason I have a WIFE is because of the internet. I lack the social skills and knowledge necessary to interact with average females in a face-to-face manner, but thanks to the internet I was able to woo my future spouse and keep my awkward social failings a secret from her until she was already thoroughly in love with me. I wholeheartedly believe that I would still be single and living in my parents’ basement if it wasn’t for the internet.
Now, the title of my post implies that I place very little value on interacting with other humans, which is true, but it’s not really the point I’m trying to get across here. It’s really more of a provocative title chosen to attract interest and drive traffic to my blog. My point is more that even if you do derive some value from human interaction, you shouldn’t be worrying about the internet killing it.
I guess the problem is whether or not you value face-to-face interaction more highly than other forms of human interaction. Because there’s probably some truth to the idea that the growth of the internet has negatively impacted face-to-face human interaction. But I believe that it has had a positive influence on human interaction in general. I’ve been able to use the internet to interact with a wide range of other humans whom I NEVER would have interacted with otherwise. Not only that, but I can and do use the internet to keep up interactions with people I met face-to-face but can no longer interact with face-to-face because we now live in wildly differing physical locations.
I just think that all this stuff about the internet and technology ruining things and making life sad or whatever is pure nonsense. People are just afraid of change. Which I get. Look, I’m as terrified of change as anybody. I eat the exact same breakfast and the exact same lunch every single day, for crying out loud. But to be afraid of change just for the sake of being afraid of change is silly. Technology isn’t ruining anything. Just accept that the world is changing and enjoy the ride. At the very least, you’ll have a lot of extra space in your house.