He missed paper.
Just the feel of it in his hands, the smell of age and words on the page. He missed the thickness of the paper, even if he did have to squint at the words. Everything was electronic now, but he remembered them.
Just the thought of one of the books he used to hold brought a warmth to him. Sure, he had his electronic iEverything. A guy had to read, right? However, he remembered books. He thought of the thrill of words unfolding into story across the page but they were gone now.
It was all about progression. He thought of the black and orange computer screens of his youth, of laser discs and Beta and VHS. He remembered the moment he had first really taken in television. He figured it had been an episode of Three’s Company.
He remembered playing his first 3D game in an arcade. It was as if the people were made of air and light-it looked really cool, but the controls were crap. He thought of playing Where In The World Was Carmen Sandiego? He had spent hours playing that game-he wasn’t very good at the game, but it took him away trying to solve puzzles.
Then he remembered the world just exploding with technology: there were iPods and Walkman’s all around. He had a yellow one that he had gotten from Consumers Distributing, a sprawling catalogue store. He used to go there with his aunt. It had shone like the sun and ran on two batteries for hours.
That was when the transition began to speed up. Eight tracks and records became tapes and CD’s and even those were gone now. First the video stores had started to close, stopping rentals. Then the music and video stores started to close. People no longer bought video’s or compact discs. They downloaded it.
They had become a sea of faces, looking into screens. No one talked anymore, they just sent an email. He couldn’t remember the last time he had received an actual phone call. He saw people, sure, he had a social life-but he spent the rest of his time staring into a screen.
He worked on one, read on one, listened to music and watched television on one. The change had become so gradual, he almost hadn’t known he ha given up paper. He was reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time when it occurred to him that he’d like to read the books again. The real ones. He couldn’t remember where he had put them.
Looking around him, all he had seen was a dozen or so electronic devices. His bookshelves were empty. How had this happened, he thought. Where had all of his books gone?
And still, technology progressed: devices where you could hold your entire library in your hand, where you could carry your whole music collection in your pocket. Want to watch a movie? Sure, hit a button. The possibilities were endless.
The thing was, none of it was real. Sure, you downloaded whet you wanted, streamed what you wanted to watch, but none of it was real. It was only megabytes and pixels and HD or 3D. Whatever you downloaded, someone owned a part of it. That’s why books had mattered. They held memories when nothing else could.
What’s more, you owned that book, it was yours. With all these electronic thing, you didn’t. All you had was…..