I rebel against the mobile for the autocratic demands it makes on our lives. There is just no escape from the rest of the world when your attention is constantly distracted by calls, texts, emails and automated reminders.
This particular technophobia goes back to my NHS days when I was forced to carry a Blackberry, a separate Nokia out-of-hours emergency phone and an old-fashioned bleeper just for good measure.
(In the event of a really major emergency, the mobile phone network crashes under the pressure of demand, but bleepers keep on working. How you’re supposed to respond is another matter entirely…)
I became a slave to the technology as the damned things would go off at all hours of the day, demanding an instant response to each and every major and minor problem, mostly minor. The problem is that instant responses tend to be the wrong ones.
You can tell that the resentment lingers because I hadn’t intended that mobile phones should be the subject of today’s little homily. I was supposed to writing about electronic books.
I bought Mrs P a Kindle two Christmases ago and despite her reservations she absolutely loves it. She is an avid reader, getting through three or four books a week and Ebbie (as she named her Kindle) is perfect for her. But I haven’t quite taken to the idea.
Admittedly I don’t have a Kindle, but I have tried the app on my iPad and persevered with a title or two and yet it simply doesn’t feel right. For me reading is a tactile experience – the touch of the paper, the smell of the ink, the patterns of the typography – that the electronic alternative just cannot deliver.
And where will today’s books be in a hundred years time if they have been read and deleted from a billion electronic books?
This question came to me when I picked up The Wonder Book of Soldiers for a pound from a local charity shop. This story of World War I must have once been a popular title as this was the sixth edition published within a year of the end of hostilities.
It was written for boys and girls (no gender stereotyping then) and so has lots of illustrations, but it is written well and in detail, and with relatively little jingoism that you might expect for its time.
My point is, would this little gem have survived if electronic books had existed then, or would it have been consigned to the virtual rubbish bin? And as I asked above, what will become of today’s examples of social history in book form? Or will our future selves simply close the door on the past?
Perhaps willful forgetting will be the way of things. I’m just glad I won’t be around to experience it.
Just to undermine my own argument, you can download The Wonder Book of Soldiers at Electronic Scotland.