I first met Mandy at Tate Publishing. I hardly ever got any work done because she made me laugh so hard. She is a wonderful friend, and I am honored that she would write a guest blog for Curiouser Editing. This post really spoke to me. Be prepared to feel convicted.
"I wasn't trying to predict the future. I was trying to prevent it." — Ray Bradbury
When I first thought about doing this blog, I knew that I wanted to focus on how technology is destroying a culture that I love best. I was going to talk about how books are actually greener than e-readers, because they are biodegradable, recyclable, reusable, and sellable, whereas a download (or device) isn’t. I thought it was smart to mention that books eat up carbon dioxide, which electronic devices emit. I thought about the pros and cons of books verses e-readers: you can’t take an e-reader into a bathtub or out in the sunlight, but you can always take a book near water, outdoors, or to a blackout without having to recharge. I wondered why anyone would ever want their library in one portable place when we can have walls lined with the physical labor of many authors. I was going to argue that books are sustainable, physical, and downloads and devices are unreliable and delete-able. Technology fails, is what I wanted to emphasize. This and more is what I was going to argue were the reasons I would never own a Kindle.
Then I began to reread Fahrenheit 451, and I started to really realize what high school and college teachers were trying to tell me about the core of the book. Yes, technology, political correctness, and censorship are themes that are topics chosen for essays and arguments. But they all have one thing in common: how they affect personal relationships.
Daily we cut ourselves off from each other. Communication exists mostly through social media, texting, e-mailing, and, bringing it up the rear, phone calls, and face-to-face interaction. Some of my friends prefer to text rather than talk on the phone. (Cough, I’m, like, way old, so I still like talking on the phone.) But I have been guilty of doing the very same things. I even put my headphones on (Seashells) at work to avoid talking to people, and someecards.com makes a meme of it:
We purposefully and constantly push people away. Why do we build these barriers with our handy devices? I know we’re all busy, and I know that these things are excellent ways to stay connected when we are going about our chaotic days. They’re literally lifesavers, organizers, and unarguably convenient. But they are not supposed to be our default communication, which is what we as a society have made them.
What Bradbury was trying to warn us about is that if we put too much into these meaningless electronics, we lose each other, and eventually we will lose ourselves.
We can choose to live these lives of ours with deep passion and fever, or we can brush them aside for the comforts of hiding behind a screen.
Last week would have been Ray Bradbury’s ninety-third birthday, and he passed away just a couple of months before his ninety-second. If you haven’t read Fahrenheit 451, you’re sorely missing out. It’s shocking how accurate one man was on our future, and it’s alarming how quickly it’s happening. He did in nine days what most of us will not achieve in a lifetime, and he did it while holding onto his personal relationships, come hell or high water.
There’s so much to say about this book that I had to keep it short and sweet with one point that stands out to me now, but I will leave you with this:
“‘Every man must leave something behind when he dies….Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds.’”
For more amazing blog posts from Mandy, follow her at http://somewhatspotty.wordpress.com/.