About ten years ago, I predicted I’d never walk into a diner and see patrons pulled up to the counter, reading the daily news on their laptops, as morning cups of coffee steamed at their elbows. “People like their newspapers too much, and always will,” I said.
Well, just the other week I was sipping coffee at a diner, and guess what? I counted four laptops and zero newspapers.
I felt dismayed, not because my prediction was wrong, but because newspapers really do seem to be dying. Then I admitted I, myself, read the news online from a variety of sources, and only occasionally buy a daily “paper” newspaper.
Facebook, my all-time favorite online resource, gives me a similar internal dilemma. It’s a powerful networking tool and a unique social forum that has reconnected me with many old school friends I truly thought I’d never hear from again. But since I joined Facebook, I all but stopped penning letters to my regular correspondents (who are all on Facebook too). While I cherish the almost constant social connection Facebook affords, there’s nothing like finding a real letter in your mailbox, or sitting down with pen and paper to devote your full attention to one person.
Similarly, there’s nothing like snapping open The Boston Globe or The Philadelphia Inquirer and getting ink on your fingertips. And somehow, looking up a word on www.dictionary.com — which I do frequently — just isn’t as satisfying as leafing through an onion skin-paged dictionary.
The solution, of course, is to use a real dictionary, write a real letter, and buy a real newspaper. And recently I’ve resolved to keep doing those exact things. I’d like to thank the Internet for convenience and connectedness — and for inspiring me to hold sacred those paper-based pursuits.
Is the Internet threatening any of your dearest non-Web activities with extinction? What makes our favorite online resources so alluring and irresistible?