Since I’m a librarian, I spend a lot of time each day pondering the death of the public library and how necessary librarians will be once everything in the world is available online, etc. My former boss was a techie nerd despite his advanced years and he once described to me “being able to have every book you could think of delivered instantaneously to your computer screen and you’d never have to go anywhere!” His eyes were lit up in a way that was both alarming and unexpected and I knew that it was best to just smile and nod rather than say what I was actually thinking.
Which was, exactly why the hell would I want every book delivered instantaneously to my computer screen? I hate reading on the computer, and having to do it for more than a couple hours at a time, makes me go all buggy-eyed. Sure that’s an awfully convenient idea, but it’s far from desirable.
When I got my first desktop computer that I didn’t have to share with anyone else, it was the age of dial-up and the age of Napster. I spent four full days in my apartment, alone, “sharing” music. I spoke to no one, because none of my friends (or I) had any kind of chat capabilities; my cell phone was for emergency use only, weighed about a pound and was in my car 1/2 a block away; and since I had dial-up, no one could contact me without coming over to my house. Frankly, looking back, I kind of wonder why no one came over to check on me.
My apartment was garden-level with very little natural light, so the passing of time meant nothing to me, and I didn’t even realize how long I had been holed up in my hovel until I noticed a new episode of Friends was on, which tipped me off that it was Thursday.
Once I finally emerged, I had a harddrive full of crappy music that I never listened to, and a desire to never sink to those depths again. Yes, on a winter’s day, I often don’t want to leave the house, but I never want to not have to leave the house at some point. Why would anyone want that?
I’m still recovering.
I also spend a lot of time thinking about manners and social graces. Perhaps this is a result of working in customer service for most of my life, perhaps this is a desire to move in social circles higher than those I was born into, or perhaps this is just further manifestation of Minnesota Nice (which I think is a myth because my dad treats waitstaff appallingly bad, though others have pointed out that a side-effect of Minnesota Nice is a tendency to be passive-aggressive). The point is, since this is something I think about frequently, I also really notice when other people are rude and awkward. I can say with the confidence of a public librarian– a lot of people are rude or awkward–usually both.
People learn manners and social graces from their parents mostly, and then secondarily from school and interactions with other people. There’s not really any such thing as charm school anymore (except that Vh1 show) to teach people how to act in certain social settings, so there’s really no way to learn to interact with people except by observation. Plus there’s huge difference between the way you interact in school versus the way your act in real life. Pair this with the anonymous and semi-anonymous online interactions on facebook etc, where you can tell someone exactly what you think of them with few-to-no consequences, and I think it’s safe to say we’re all doomed.
Yes, having any book delivered to your screen instantly is a very convenient thing, but even without that, I sometimes have a hard time finding reasons to leave the house. This is why I’m in no rush to make things more convenient. Even though I hate doing things like going to the mall, it’s nice to leave the damn house once in a while and see other faces–no matter how unattractive. I hope I’m not the only person who feels this way.