The Worst New Thing

By Kathy Wagenknecht
     After spending 70 years depending on pieces of paper to survive in my daily life, I have to say that the determination to eliminate paper is the WORST new thing to enter society. Think about it: we will leave no artifacts that aren’t electronically recorded, likely in some old computer language that none of the newest computers can read.
     No photographs, no stored checks and check registers, no old log books, autograph books, year books.  Nothing to mark our passing but a computer chip.
     And maybe nothing needs to mark my passing. It would be easier for my survivors to  download my computer files to their personal device and throw out all the old stuff I will undoubtedly have stored in closets and drawers of old chests in case I might need them some day.
     But I miss paper. I miss getting a physical newspaper, though that was my choice because it was less expensive. But I can’t mulch my garden or wrap the garbage with the bits of electronic energy that I currently receive.
     I miss maps. I like Google maps to direct me when I want only to go somewhere specific. But if I’m just going to a new place with several alternative routes, I’d like to see the big picture, with the possible side-trips and sites of interest all at once.
     I miss cards and letters. Oh, I send a few cards at Christmas, and a birthday card or two, but I used to write long letters to distant friends. And receive them. Emails, though faster, less expensive, and more immediate, just don’t suffice.
     I miss calendars with their photos on one side and grid of days on the other. Oh, I know, I get 14 of them in the mail every year from one organization or another trying to raise money, but I no longer use them. I rely on the calendar in my ubiquitous phone. It’s always with me and my memory is not good enough to count on remembering to go to the kitchen and write my events in the square on the calendar hanging on the back of the door.
     I miss file cabinets filled with folders of incomplete stories, copies of old bills, and canceled checks returned to you from your bank after they have given money to the payee.  I know I have folders in my files online, but the tactile pleasure of touching the old papers or seeing a departed loved one’s signature on an old check just can’t be replicated.
     And yes, I know that paper burns. But electronics can be destroyed, your cloud subscription can lapse, your password forgotten.
     Actually, maybe paper isn’t reallly enough. Does anyone have a stone tablet and an adze?