We have a date with the future, but what's our relationship with the past?
“I love the book. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the compactness of it, the shape, the size. I love the feel of paper. The sound it makes when I turn a page. I love the beauty of print on paper, the patterns, the shapes, the fonts. I am astonished by the versatility and practicality of The Book. It is so simple. It is so fit for its purpose. It may give me mere content, but no e-reader will ever give me that sort of added pleasure.”
― Susan Hill, Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home
“...Something we once loved, and love now, in the shape of a book. Maybe eBooks are going to take over, one day, but not until those whizzkids in Silicon Valley invent a way to bend the corners, fold the spine, yellow the pages, add a coffee ring or two and allow the plastic tablet to fall open at a favorite page.”
― Russell T. Davies, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Not everyone is a critic of e-books, however. Younger generations may actually find comfort in these digital readers:
WE CRAVE OLD MEDIUMS BECAUSE WE CRAVE EXPERIENCE
One year for Christmas I got my very own combination CD-player and radio. I remember being so excited to play my new [insert the name of some crappy bubble-gum pop artist that I liked back in middle school] album. This was probably seven or so years ago--when I was eleven. I remember having to make sure I wiped the dust off the disc before clicking it into the disc reader. I remember turning this big grey knob to adjust the volume and pressing on different plastic buttons to either skip, play, pause, or rewind a song. You also had to really like an artist's whole album because you did not buy songs individually. All that was there was the one album in the disc reader and if you wanted to listen to something else you had to take the disc out and put a different one in. Listening to the radio was its own ordeal. I would shuffle around my room finding the place where the signal was the strongest. Then I had to adjust the antenna just the right way and turn the knob to just the right degree if I wanted to catch my favorite station. There was so much tactile stimulation involved in listening to music.
I imagine those who grew up with record players look at music consumption nowadays with similar sentiments.
With iTunes and streaming sites I can have as much music as I want at my fingertips--literally my fingertips. I am not confined to listening to one album at a time, I can shuffle through thousands of different artists and musicians within an hour. I can access my music through a phone, a computer, or an iPad. My options are nearly endless, but it also makes listening to music overwhelming. There is so much content out there that often times I do not even know where to start.
We cherish memories because we are so deeply connected to our pasts. They tell us a lot about our personal geographies. That is why we love nostalgic things. Even as we readily embrace new technology we often look back and long for the "things of the past." Old mediums carry the weight and toll of time. For example a polaroid from an old album has some sort of inherent value that a digital photo lacks. The former is a singularity; it is unique in the fact that it is the only one like it to exist. The latter is imminently replaceable; it can be saved, copied, and edited.
However our relationship with the past does not cancel out our attraction to technology and the digital world. In fact, digital mediums allow us to remember an influx of information about the past. We are able to document even the tiniest details of our lives without, for instance, running out of film.
"The digital camera is a great invention because it allows us to reminisce. Instantly."
There is not much difference between the new and the old. The "past" that we get nostalgic for, is not really the past that we experienced. It is a static recollection of one good moment or thing. Similarly a digital photo is never really a true representation of a specific memory. It is not grounded in context. We use our social media accounts to curate the way other people view us. For example, the life that you would prescribe to a person by just scrolling through the photos on their Instagram account might be completely different from the life they actually lead. The digital world can be deceiving just like our nostalgic remembrances.
"Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days." --Doug Larson