Yours truly exercised executive privilege the other day and took the kiddos swimming at the local YMCA. Along with half the population of the Free World.
It seemed like a good idea at the time: a warm, blue, postcard-perfect summer day. An open afternoon. A recently renewed Y membership. A heated indoor pool. Almost-clean towels. (Nobody’s perfect.)
No one said anything about a ginormous multi-county swim meet taking place within five feet of the rec pool. And me without my Prozac. Not that it would’ve helped. Godzilla couldn’t compete with that pollywog crowd.
Wedged into metal bleachers that must’ve been designed by the Marquis de Sade, my short-lived career in the Girl Scouts kicked in. I came prepared: bottled water, banana muffins, and all the Bing cherries I could eat. I also brought what any self-respecting author brings anywhere: a book. Two, in fact: Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer and Scott’s Last Journey by Peter King.
Anyway, between Bings, muffins, carabineers, crampons and ice axes, I looked up and surveyed the crowd. And laughed. There must’ve been like a million people at that meet. I and one other grandpa type were the only ones reading real live, honest-to-goodness books. (Ouch.) Remember those? The physical kind, with a cover and actual pages?
Everyone else was talking, eating, or buried in their mobile device. Texting. Facebooking. Tweeting. Lost in their own little worlds.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty to be said for technology and cool electronic gadgetry. (Some of it’s even printable.) Technology helps us stay connected. Reach out. Keep up. Technology helps an author work faster, smarter, and order out for pizza.
But when it comes to reading and writing, the dinosaur in me reigns supreme. I don’t care how cool your Kindle is. Call me a Brontosaurus, but nothing beats holding a physical book in your hands and turning real pages. There’s something about a physical book that an electronic device can’t touch (pun intended).
One other thing. A 140 character tweet or a status update may work in a flash, but they’re a flimsy substitute for a personal face-to-face with a living, breathing human being. A physical book. A writer’s group. Or looking your audience in the eye.
Who’s with me?