In a world where we communicate more via text, post, Snapchat, or Twitter than we speak aloud, I’m curious how this is changing the conversation. Wordsmithing our lives into shareable bites is fun and quick and clever, but does it deliver? Close your eyes and relive the most transformative conversations of your life. Our memories are cloaked in sensory sustenance. Spontaneous half-smiles, the timbre of laughter, familiar scents…these goodies are hard to recreate in a digital landscape. This has me thinking about the relics of the Old School Kingdom we should fight to hold onto. When I move to Tech Island, what do I bring from the Pre-Smartphonian Era?
Vinyl is rising from the ashes because music is rich and textured and gorgeous on a record player. It’s personal. Suddenly, the band is sitting with me, performing like gladiators because their talent is boundless, and they don’t need a team of sound engineers to smooth out their edges. Rawness is a concert: the moment that separates all true artists from makers of music. If you can rock in person, you can truly rock. And though I know it’s an allusion to believe there’s not a team of production geniuses somewhere behind the scenes, this less polished sound is real & vibrant & worth the resurgence.
There are so many new,-fashioned, visually-appealing ways to capture our experiences: glossy, digital photo books, musically-cued video collages, Pinterest boards, to-the-minute-social media pages…but nothing replaces the sensation of touch. Running fingers across the lace of a dress from decades ago, curling up inside a quilt passed down from generations of yore, breathing in the scent of perfume on a sheet of old stationary…if there’s a sense we lose in the digital world…it’s touch. I may be able to listen to my child’s voice and wander through galleries of photos on my phone, but when I flip through my childhood scrapbook, I can touch concert tickets, corsage ribbon, and puffy, scratch ‘n sniff sticker collections. The sniff may be long gone, but the feel of those stickers sends me backwards in time. Touch makes our world real: so, trundle boxes, cedar chests, and fabric-covered scrapbooks will always trump what lingers in the cloud.
It’s still fun to get mail. Real mail that travels through the hands of loved ones to postal workers to our doorsteps. Our name scrawled in familiar handwriting, written on a card that bears smudges and creases and, often, a signature scent. Everything my grandma ever mailed to me smelled like lavender. I don’t know how, but when I opened a box or a letter, I was suddenly next to her, minimizing the hundreds of miles between us into negligible space. Now that she’s gone, I can find her again in her letters, her cards. Just like a message in a bottle, I know that once a card is written and sealed, I am giving it away: it belongs forever to the one who reads it. In a world where we are able to reread and rethink conversation, handwritten cards are singular moments of expression, casting into the ocean of our relationships.
I love Amazon just as much as anyone—heck, they’re selling my book (warning: shameless plug alert in three, two, one… https://goo.gl/7xl1yQ)—but there’s nothing quite like walking into a locally-owned store, chorus of bells jangling at the door, strolling aisles of vintage clothes, quirky knickknacks, and homemade candles. Imagine Christmas shopping without the sounds of carols streaming through store speakers, the sparkle of twinkling white lights adorning every window, or the smell of peppermint, chocolate, and roasted cinnamon wafting through the air. Something is missing. While online shopping remains exciting and convenient, sometimes in order to get a feel for an item, we actually need to feel the item.
Real books with spines & creamy, beige-tinted pages. Real books with glossy covers & pages that smoothly shear the air as they’re turned. Real books that tumble from hand to hand, reader to reader. Unlike the devices we hold dear, getting our hands on real books doesn’t cost a dime, yet we can carry them like we own them. There is such beauty in the stillness of a library, of vibrantly-colored spines adorning the shelves of every local bookshop. Sanctuaries of dreams, purveyors of imagination. As much as I appreciate the convenience of reading online, my heart will always belong to the printed text.
The future is exciting. I’ve never been one to shy away from change or adventure, so I’m certainly not suggesting we turn away from the connectivity new technology offers. On the contrary, let’s marry our worlds: embracing the adventures Innovation has to offer without losing sight of Classic and Quality. If it’s epic, it will probably be epic tomorrow. For each time our family expands, we don’t stop loving those who first stamped our hearts…our hearts simply grow. Here’s to a world of giant hearts.