Losing Paper

I have this “certification”.

While doing the long overdue job of sorting through my over abundance of books the other day a question occurred to me: how often do we use paper anymore?

I mean obviously we use some. Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, paper dishes etc. The wood fiber industry is in no danger of failing anytime soon!

But how often do we refer to paper for information? On my shelves I have at least a dozen and a half books about “how to do this” or “how to do that”, many of which I have never picked up, even if I had done projects in related areas. Several of these books ended up in my giveaway pile.

Even books of photography or art or fiction are hardly picked up anymore.

The reason for all of this is obvious. The internet has pretty much everything we need. Millennials have nearly given up on paper. They are often accused of being know-it-alls (isn’t every generation?) just because they feel quite confident that they can find answers to every question just a few clicks away. This is the first generation in history in which nearly everyone has virtually immediate access to vast quantities of data and information.

I remember the days when the internet was considered the last place to go for information. Every page was suspect, and if you couldn’t back up the fact with a book, you had better not put it in your research paper. Now, even the Bible is on an app or website. I’m certain I don’t have to fact check that one.

I greatly appreciate having the Bible in an app. It’s easy to find verses by keyword or topic, and I can even click the word to find out the original Hebrew or Greek words. How many paper books would I have to refer to to find that info?

These days I now carry a bigger library of fiction and textbooks in my pocket than many of my ancestors had in their entire house. And with internet access I have the ability to find any number of recipes, how-tos, and hints and tips. There is no need anymore to occupy large quantities of space with tomes of outdated information.

This easy access to billions (trillions? more?) of bits of data can be overwhelming. There are things that are much simpler to do with old fashioned paper or a few phone calls or face to face meetings. Like car repair. Type in any symptom of car trouble into Google and you will likely find at least fifteen different diagnoses with at least seven different fights going on in forums about what the proper repair is. While I have learned nearly all of my mechanical knowledge from YouTube and forums I must say there is nothing quite like the Haynes Manual when you just need to know something simple.

I was nice enough to buy this for my wife. She’s kinda into car repairing. She’s awesome.

They offer online access to these manuals, but for the same price you can have a real object in your hand, available even in the iffy phone service of southeast New Mexico. And unlike online versions your subscription will not expire and the site will never shut down.

What else do I want in paper? Well, the owner’s manual for one. Do you know how hard it is to look up fluid capacities and recommend oil types on a tiny little screen? Fortunately most cars still come with those.

And magazines. There is something great about being able to pick up some colorful and quick knowledge while sitting in a doctors office or car mechanic’s shop (because YouTube failed to mention that one step). It makes you look less stuck up to be flipping through a magazine than it does to have your nose buried in your phone.

Kids books also. My kids stare at enough screens all day, they need something tactile that doesn’t make random noises and overstimulating flashes. A child reading a book is a classic image that should continue to be ingrained into our collective psyche.

Children
Thanks Google. Try to find a picture like this in a book that quickly, I dare you!

What do I want to stop seeing on paper? Bank statements (usually a week behind), letters stating “disregard if you have already addressed this matter” (yep, three days ago, thanks to web alerts), and pretty much any bill that I have already set up online bill-pay for. All the nonsense that comes into my house and makes me think “oh this is important, they took the time and money to print it out” can go as well.

Books are not ever going to disappear, there will always be some nostalgic souls out there who just want to hold one in their hand. Or people who enjoy searching through page after page for the (probably outdated) answer to one question.

My prediction is that books are going to be the vinyl album of the next generation. “Oh wow, did you see they put that out in book?! We should totes get one to sit on our shelf. That would look swell!”

The word “swell” will also make a come back. Oh, I hope not…

 

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The Day After… 

“Donald J Trump is not your worst enemy. Your mind is your worst enemy. Your fear is your worst enemy. Your imagination is your worst enemy.”

Copyright: someone I’m sure….

When I started this blog,  I promised myself that I would not write sappy, sentimental, carpe diem nonsense posts. I am not going to keep that promise. After seeing some of the anguish on my Facebook feed, and all the craziness in Washington, I decided that instead of the typical snarky tone that most are taking, it was time to write something cliché filled and uplifting. Because really folks, it’s going to be okay. 
Eight years ago, I was a 24 year old neocon. To me, Obama was going to be the end of the world as we knew it. I remember being disgusted at the fawning and tearful worship of a truly evil man who was elected based on his charisma, not his character or experience. I remember thinking this man was ignorant of economics, and wanted all the bad people to defeat us. I remember the punch to my gut when the candidate “my side” had run lost. I felt sick. I felt sad. I felt defeated and alone. It was a scary moment, because to my mind there was no telling what damage would be done.

The second time he was elected I did what any adult does when feeling defeated; I drank myself to sleep, got up the next morning, and went to work. I had learned that it did not matter what the man in the White House was doing. What mattered was what I did every day in my own life to get by and grow. Yes, it hurt to watch him sworn in again, but it was not the end of my world.

I know the feeling so many people are feeling today. You will get through it. You will realize that you listened to the nonsense of the media and pundits. You will realize that most of what goes on in the upper echelons of power really does not affect you in the short term. One man does not have the power that you ascribe to him.

Four years or eight years from now you will still be alive and if you are not it is not likely your death has anything to do with the man in the White House. Your freedom is likely to be less, but it was going to be less regardless of who had won. 

This is American politics. Both sides are going to promise utopia to you. Both sides are going to say the other side is the evil incarnate and will probably kill you in your sleep. Both sides will disappoint you. Both sides will fail you. 

Here is what you do when you get gut punched by politics. You get up every day and do what you have always done. Go to work. Play with your kids. Love your spouse. Make plans and work for them. Don’t expect salvation from the government. Again, don’t expect salvation from the government. Don’t expect the government to save you, and don’t expect the politicians to save you from the government. 

Eight years after Obama’s ascent to the throne, here I am, eight years older, still alive, and better off. I’m better off not because of politicians, but because of hard work and experience. I assure you, Donald J Trump is not your worst enemy. Your mind is your worst enemy. Your fear is your worst enemy. Your imagination is your worst enemy. The voices of a thousand liars talking at you from screens and speakers are your worst enemies. 

Shut them out. Speak truth to yourself. Don’t let the hype kill your dreams. Don’t let your worst imaginations crush your work ethic. Don’t let fear paralyze your growth. Don’t let the talking points of one man or a thousand supporters stop you from living your life.

Get up. Get to work. Make the world a better place because you are in it. Stop seeking your salvation in a system designed to disappoint you. 

You got this.