Was the convenience worth the loss of magic?

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Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Technology may offer us a lot, but nothing will beat a pen and paper

There is a writer back home who was famous for saying something that roughly translates to “Science has given us faster motion, and less time for emotion.” Not to be pedantic, but I believe he may have meant technology, but the point he makes is valid. I often find myself thinking about how all the technological advances in the world today have subtly, but surely, robbed us of the opportunities for little moments of magic in our everyday lives. I am not ungrateful, because there are probably just as many things it has also made far more magical. However, sometimes we do have to wonder if the trade has been mostly for the better or not.

Right off the bat, I want to acknowledge one of the biggest blessings of technology. Many members of my extended family immigrated to North America in the 80s and 90s. Their only means of communication with us was through letters, or prohibitively expensive (and shoddy) long distance calls. Today, I have lived away from family for almost six years now. My sister and I have not seen each other in person since the fall of 2019, but we call each other every day and talk entirely too much. My childhood best friend lives in Australia, and yet I know of everything that is going on in his life in practically real time. I saw photos of both his children less than ten minutes after they were born, a sharp contrast to the time I met a cousin of mine when I was eight, and it was the first time we had ever seen each other!

But, as I mentioned, a lot of magical moments have also been lost. After all, it is unlikely that anything approaching the anticipation of meeting my cousin will ever happen again. Another one I often think about is how growing up, I used to listen to a lot of radio, and the pleasant surprise when a favourite song came on just as I tuned in. In today’s world of on-demand Spotify playlists, that magical moment is also gone. The irony of human nature at play – what is easy to attain becomes easy to underappreciate. The same is true for television shows. Growing up, one of my favourite shows used to air on Wednesday nights. It is hard to convey the sense of excitement as I finished homework, had supper, and prepared everything for the next morning just in time to watch the show. I still have favoured shows, but I get to watch them whenever I feel like on some streaming platform. The magic is gone.

But in one small way, I have held onto the past. My own little defiance to the onslaught of technology. I work with computers all day and own an embarrassingly high number of different gadgets of multiple screen sizes. Pretty much everything I do for work must eventually be typed up. And, yet, I insist on writing with pens, on paper. It is how I take all my work notes; it is how I detail the ideas in my head as I work on a research problem, and yes, it is how I still write letters.

Granted, I have not written one in a while. Perhaps it would be truer to say I have not written one in a while that reached the intended recipient. I also experiment with different types of pens and paper as I write out my heart to a beloved friend. Sometimes, I never get around to posting it. That is because walking to the post office, and postage and stamps, are things I do not wish to tackle. But maybe I will begin handing out letters to the people around me, all the time, instead of a Facetime, or email, or text message. After all, one cannot stash away a text message inside a much-read book.

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