In order to save billions of pounds a year, the British health secretary wants the NHS to be paperless by 2018. A move that has become a common solution to cut spending on stationary and ‘to save the trees.’ Going paperless is now similar to going insane. Happens to everybody. Even the schools are switching to iPads. Soon we will be tapping screens and scrolling virtual documents, and our children will gasp when we tell them of the time we used the post to keep in touch with friends.
How many of you remember that time? When we sat down to write to our friends, with quill, parchment and a postal owl…..No wait! With pen, paper, stamps and envelops? If you do remember doing that, you are very very lucky. Because these days I don’t see anyone writing. Why should they ‘write’? I mean… it only take seconds to send a text, email or a tweet. But here’s why it’s not all that great as it sounds.
Does anybody ever stop to think these days?
The possibility of constantly expressing yourself and keeping in touch with friends has given us very little time to think. We say as we think, post as we take pictures and keep up with conversations for an entire day switching between phones and computers. We are in a perpetual state of active communication, even on holiday.
I recently witnessed a meteor shower which was absolutely phenomenal. But the sad thing was, I was the only one seeing it through my own eyes, everyone else was using their phones or iPads to witness the occasion, in an effort to share it with everyone else. How thoughtful? Is it…?
I feel like the art of living is no more as well as the art of thinking. A virtual world of us is taking over and we are barely noticing. Your social media status is becoming an important social indicator. Teenagers are desperate to trend on Twitter and our Facebook friend ‘likes’ seem to matter more than the real opinion of our real friends. We take pictures of everything, from our fetuses to desserts. And we share thousands of those pictures with millions of people who in turn can share them million times more.
It can get silly
The White House online petitions are a clear example of what happens when people are asked to address serious issues on the internet. Demands to build a Death Star or deport Piers Morgan are not going to end just because the signature bar is raised. What do you get when you combine We the People with internet petitions? An unrealistic nation.
Snail pace meant less time for mistakes
When we write a letter, we don’t stop at 160 or 140 characters We write at least a page worth of words and thoughts. The longer we write, the more we think. And there’s that walk to the post box. Your anger emotion and frivolity can transform into new perspectives or often the correct perspectives during this time. It also avoids sending the wrong message to the wrong person, if that has ever happened to you. If you are sending a picture of your cat having a nap, letter writing will make you think twice about whether your friends really need to see it. On the plus side, you will also be saving them from photo avalanches.
The virtual touch is like a virtual hug, its not real
I personally can never compare the feeling of reading a paperback novel to a Kindle reading. The actual turning of pages and it’s ‘bookish’ qualities are unique. Most of all…the whiff of the aged pages. It’s true that we need trees to make paper. But do we really use trees wisely enough to say books are doing the most damage? What happened to recycling? I guess going virtual is part of human evolution, therefore excuses need not be valid.
I’m not radical about the idea of going paperless. It does have its advantages. Having a paper-free office sounds a lot organised and less wasteful. But it also means we are stepping into a technology-driven, gadgeted world in every area of life. Education and publication too are becoming more and more virtual.
The big picture is a sad one. The perfect ink to paper relationship is dead. It was good while it lasted. And like most romances, it left a whole lot of memories. An end of that era is marked by iPads, touch screens and social media. Yes, the stone tablet did indeed turn into a capacitive digitizer, and we are going to cut down all the trees anyway.