KlinestarLike my mother telling me about playing with a Mr. Potato Head that was actually a potato or my father talking about working as the guy that reset the pins at the family bowling alley, I imagine I will someday be explaining to my my son about the joys of sitting down and reading the newspaper.

Archived Story

Daniel Kline: Taking it slow still worth it sometimes

Published 10:40am Thursday, September 3, 2009

He will likely listen for a minute or two being slightly amused before he resumes getting his news in two-word blips from whatever device delivers such things in the not-so-distant future.

As a child I used to get up early to be able to read the Boston Globe from front-to-back before anyone in my family touched the paper.

I’m only 35, so we’re not talking that many years ago, and there was not only no Internet, there weren’t really any computers.

Essentially, the information you could get electronically was pretty much limited to the cut scenes between levels in Pac-Man (which, to be fair, did teach me quite a bit about the courting rituals of Pac-People).

The rise in people getting their news from Yahoo, Google and the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen leaves me wondering if we have created a generation of people with no capacity for depth.

Just give them the headlines and that’s enough.

Nobody cares for the when, where, why or how, they just want who and what.
If John F. Kennedy were shot today, a generation of non-readers would learn “President killed” and leave it at that.

The public might be interested in reading a blog post about the president’s romantic dalliances or perhaps they might sit through a 140 character or less “Tweet” about his murder, but the only way he could really hold their attention is if he made a sex tape or a reality show.

Glancing at the headlines on your desktop or your cell phone screen does not count as being informed.

It’s great that CNN will send you a one-sentence update when news breaks, but that update should at least sometimes lead to you seeking out more information.

In my generation television news started pulling people away from the more in-depth forms of knowing what was going on like newspapers or magazines.

That, coupled with video games, MTV and other short-form instant gratification entertainment lowered attention spans, caused a rise in Attention Deficit Disorder and slowly started lowering the bar.

The current generation not only has all those same distractions, but their methods of social interaction no longer require any effort or depth.

If I wanted to keep in touch with a friend after college, I had to call or write an actual letter.

Even the addition of e-mail still required actual writing, though it did begin the decay of formality, structure and attention to grammar.

Now, you can superficially maintain every relationship you have ever had by becoming Facebook friends with anyone who asks.

You may not have any real knowledge of how your old roommate’s life has gone, but you know that she’s at lunch or that he went skiing.

This might lead to having a lot more vague acquaintances that we label friends, but it probably actually erodes our real friendships.

Real knowledge, real friendship and knowing about anything in depth actually requires work.

Today might be the day to step back a little from the technology and read the paper, call an old friend and maybe even pick up a book.

Of course, if you don’t remember what those are, you can always Google it or look it up on Wikipedia.

Daniel B. Kline’s work appears in more than 100 papers weekly.
When he is not writing, Kline serves as general manager of Time Machine Hobby, New England’s largest hobby and toy store, www.timemachinehobby.com.
He can be reached at dan@notastep.com or you can see his archive at dbkline.com or befriend him at facebook.com/dankline.

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