Welcome to the 21st Century, where almost everybody owns or have owned at least one digital device, whether it is a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop, an e-reader, a digital camera, a smart TV, or anything else that they have come up with in the last 10 minutes that I have not caught wind of yet. With the rate that Apple pops out with their plethora of idevices, it really would not shock me too much if I missed out on the premier of something new while sitting here typing my little heart away. Smartphone technology is still relatively in its toddler stages and already has dominated the industry. It is rare, although not unheard of, to see someone with a basic cellular telephone or without a cellular device at all for that matter. I was driving home the other day I and ended up behind a school bus in the midst of unloading its passengers. I watched the expressions on their faces as they walked along the sidewalk smiling down at their smartphones… wait, WHAT?! Every single one of these kids were sporting iPhones and other types of hundred dollar mobile devices right along with their Hello Kitty and Transformers backpacks. I couldn’t help but to think about how different things were back when I was growing up. After Christmas break, you may have seen a kid or two on the bus with a new Sony Discman or a Gameboy Advance but other than that we did things that I seldom see young people do, such as talk to each other or read a book.
Whether these kids were browsing through social media apps, playing games, or reading an e-book is unbeknownst to me. I would like to think that they were doing something productive with the expensive piece of technology that they loosely grip as they walk along the sidewalk. Unfortunately, what I notice these days is that there are a lot of people out there that use smartphones for dumb things. Having a smartphone is definitely convenient and can be extremely beneficial. It is literally a miniature computer, high resolution digital camera, 1080p video camera, mp3 player, alarm clock, and calculator all in one handy device. Not to mention the wide variety of apps available for download that make not only smartphones but other mobile devices one of the most versatile tools that we have available today. It is like the Swiss army knife of technology. Yet, I know a good amount of people that burn through their data plans playing Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, or some other gaming app that does nothing but waste your time and in most cases, tend of tick you off. (Hence the name, Angry Birds)Then you have the other kind of people that actually put this technology to good use. Planning your day has become much easier by checking your weather app for the daily forecast. Keeping track of important deadlines, meetings, or events is as easy as swiping a finger across a screen with the calendar app. In some households, smartphones, tablets, and e-readers have replaced the daily newspaper at the breakfast table in the morning, not to mention the millions of magazine subscribers that opt to view the latest issues of their favorite magazines immediately on their electronic device in lieu of waiting on the snail mail to deliver a copy to their door. A close friend of mine and admitted Bookaholic has an entire library available at her fingertips through her kindle that she can also view on her smartphone via the kindle app. I was able to lighten my book load this semester by renting the e-book versions for three out of the five textbooks I have been assigned for my classes. If I could have gotten all of them as e-books I would have but one was unavailable as an e-book and the other one I borrowed from a friend to save money. Saving money on textbooks allowed me to be able to purchase a new LG G3. I was hesitant to spend the money until I discovered that there was an app available on the android market that would allow me to view my textbooks right on my phone. At that point, I was sold. The combination of having this available on my tablet AND my phone has helped me out tremendously by allowing me to study virtually anywhere I want to without having to carry around a load heavy books. College life can be enough of a pain, I really did not need nor want to add slipped lumbar discs to the list of struggles that I currently have.
I think I can speak for the majority when I say that bathroom breaks and smartphones go hand-in-hand these days. Before cellular technology came into play, I could probably tell you what the chemical makeup of a bottle of Pert Plus was since I would usually forget to bring my book along with me for those long visits with my friend, John. My Uncle used to keep a magazine rack next to his toilet so that he and his guests could do a little reading if they wanted with that little bit of personal time throughout their day. The next thing you know there will be docking stations adjacent to toilets so that we can enjoy hands-free reading without fear of dropping the device into the murky water or onto the tile floor. There is no telling how many Facebook statuses are posted while the author is sitting upon the throne, not to mention that there are so many pictures taken by Instagram junkies at any given time that we could probably see just about every bathroom in the world, one selfie at a time.
The advancement in technology has definitely revolutionized the way that we get our daily dose of literature. Whether they viewing an email, looking up a recipe, catching up on the latest local news stories, or participating in a forum for their humanities class, people everywhere are using digital devices to do their reading. One could predict that hard copies of books will eventually become obsolete. I personally think that would be a terrible mistake. The thought of all of those cozy little hole-in-the-wall bookstores with that old leather bound book smell closing up shop just breaks my heart. I believe that digital devices have advanced the way that we read but could never replace books completely. Books do not require batteries, they do not need to be charged, and you do not have to worry about a book malfunctioning or not being able to read it because of a cracked screen. You do not even have to have the ability to see to be able to read a book with the help of braille books made for the blind. All that is really required is time, patience, and at least a little bit of imagination.