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The 21st century ushered in a new era of technology, and with it, a new way of living. With e-readers, one can download a book instantly online; with laptops, one only has to speak into the screen for text to be recorded; with the Internet, one can shop from the comfort of a chair. All of these innovations are slowly removing the need for any actual physical effort of a human being. Why go to the library to get a book when you can sit on the couch and open it within seconds on your browser? Who needs to ever leave the house for anything? Therefore, a few strategic proposals can be made: get rid of the books, forget learning to write and tear down the stores. There could actually be practical implications to the suggested route, of which I will detail.
First, the advent of e-readers has made physical books unnecessary. According to International Business Times, the liquidation of Borders Bookstore in July 2011 was not surprising and the Barnes & Noble franchise will likely be next to follow. Therefore, I suggest utilizing those books in a way that could possibly help others: burn them. The paper of the pages would provide a much-needed source of heat for the poor in cold winter months. In addition, just think of how many trees will be saved without the need for paper to publish more books. The air would be cleaner, and the world a better place. Who needs books anyway when they are all online? Might as well help the planet and those in need.
Second, with the voice command technology of many new gadgets, the need to physically write anything at all will eventually fade. An April 2011 article in The New York Times exposed the fact that already, schools are removing curriculum to teach cursive writing. With keyboards and touch-screens now occupying all of young people’s time, cursive writing is just not necessary to learn anymore. Who cares about fraud or identity theft? Eventually, the act of creating text will be the work of computers alone, only requiring humans to speak what they want written. We won’t need the alphabet or grammar; the computer would fix any spoken mistakes. This would eliminate thousands of cases of carpel tunnel and hand cramps.
Third, online shopping has virtually eliminated the need to leave the house. With one simple click, clothing, food, personal items and furniture can be delivered directly to your home within only a few business days. Such a convenient option makes malls and grocery stores pointless. Why not tear them down and save the thousands of dollars in logistical costs required to keep them stocked? Without the need to keep inventory in stores, manufacturers could ship directly to customers without having to worry about a messy supply chain process. The extra property of the stores could be used as sites for the burning of the books. An economically strategic solution, don’t you think?
See how ridiculous it all is? Technology has great power, but it should not dictate our lives. There is nothing equal to holding a solid book in your hands and turning the pages. No computer can ever replace the need to learn how to read and write.
In “A Modest Proposal” written in 1729, which inspired this column, Jonathan Swift used satire to make a point about the extremes that can be taken to resolve a dilemma. To combat poverty in Ireland, he suggested that parents cannibalize their children in order to save money. His work caused outrage, but made the point that something had to be done about the problem.
The idea that technology will replace many of our treasured activities is depressing, yet close at hand. If we continue on this path, the only outlets for expression will be those from a computer. Our personal information will be open for the world to view and we will let the glow of the iPad screen tan our faces instead of the sun. Let us save our books, our dignity and teach our children the beauty of life beyond the keyboard.