Written by Aliyah Hurt
Even though you are currently accessing this content through an internet connection on some sort of electronic media device, I urge you to take a moment and think back on when this sort of thing wasn’t possible. At one point in time, written material such as articles, news stories, books, etc. were only accessible in their physical form. Printed text. Each one has been somewhat replaced in today’s current society by an electronic version. Even so, the physical versions of such writing still bare great importance. Having an electronic copy of something is convenient to say the least, and I am not going to discredit its value to the individual. However, there are several aspects to a physical text/piece of writing that give it depth as a learning, social, and leisure tool.
Accessibility. Now you may be thinking that everything is much more accessible through the internet and electronic media. But for those individuals without consistent internet access, a mobile device, or other form of electronic item, everything becomes less available. Not to mention that electronic documents are rarely free when it comes to books/novels, magazines, newspapers, scholarly articles, and other periodical publications. However, many if not all of these are available at state and school libraries for public access. Photocopies can be made of important portions of information, or elements you want to keep for yourself. One may not be able to afford to rent/buy a text online, but a library card is free and making photocopies only ranges from around $0.15-$0.20 a page.
It’s More Natural. Humans did not evolve and develop their mental capabilities through electronic media. Reading, writing, and formulating originated on paper. When it comes to educational texts, physical interaction with the material helps you retain what you learned. If an individual is highlighting and making notes on a piece of writing through electronic means, they are more so interacting with the screen than the material. Physically annotating an article, textbook, poem, or other form of writing connects the reader to the information displayed. The physical aspects of touching/flipping through pages, writing on the exact points you wish to write, and physically feeling out the critical aspects of the text all improve learning capability. From a biological viewpoint, we were never intended to be viewing information through a screen of any sort.
It’s an Artform. One form of physical writing that has been lost overtime is the creation and mailing of actual letters. E-mail, text messaging, and instant messaging platforms have all taken the place of postage. Instant gratification lures the individual in, since sending and receiving letters takes a more significant amount of time than electronic communication. Although, having the ability to craft a letter (without typing it) is still a necessary skill in today’s world. We cannot become entirely dependent on electronic media. You never know when the internet may crash, programs may develop bugs, and viruses are everywhere. Being able to communicate through physical writing is tedious, but a skill that few individuals have mastered.
Personal Interaction. One of the most basic needs of a social creature is the need for connection. We always want to keep in contact with people, develop meaningful relationships, and have clear, open lines of communication. Unfortunately, those processes have become impersonal. A book is a physical representation of an author’s thoughts, feelings, opinions, interpretations and hard work. A hand-written letter allows you to connect with the individual who wrote it due to the fact so much effort goes into creating such a thing. Magazines and newspapers are filled with text, as well as pictures, that you can cut out and piece together to develop a more meaningful understanding and interaction with the given work. We tend to forget that there are actual people behind the all the information we are presented with on a daily basis.
I am not going to act as if electronic media has no benefit and is destroying us as a people. However, it is important that we consciously make decisions to take a step back from our technological lifestyles and actually interact with people. One way of doing this is seeking out printed information. There is a lot of work put into creating any work of publication that is presented on paper. People are behind the work. People are expressed through the writing. There’s more to it than staring at a screen, and that needs to be appreciated.