Yesterday I was in a bookstore and I heard a sound I hadn't heard in a long time. It was the sound of a manual typewriter. The elderly man who was typing was perched on a stool, and wore a pair of small round metal rimmed spectacles. The sight and sound could only be described as elegant, and for a brief moment I mourned the inevitable loss of him and his entire generation.
I'm not as old as this man, nor am I young. Yes, I am most definitely middle-aged (though that moniker feels nearly vile). My relationship towards what's "new" is right in the middle of things, too, though I'm worrying (lightly) that my propensity towards a curmudgeonly attitude (though I've always had one) is nudging me into Andy Rooney territory, that of the older generation who looks down on the young and says "Idiots!"
I don't watch television, so I have no idea if Andy Rooney is still on Sixty Minutes. I don't even know if Sixty Minutes is still on TV, nor do I know what station it airs on. For all I know, Mr. Rooney is dead. Yes, I could google this information, but it's beside the point.
For those of you too young or too uninterested to know, Andy Rooney has been the resident curmudgeon on Sixty Minutes for, well, forever. He's been whining about the silliness of modern culture and life since I can remember, and since I can remember I've found him terribly annoying. I clearly remember talking back (out loud) to the television set many a time, saying, "Oh, please, shut up!" Then I'd remember I had a remote control unit and I could indeed shut Mr. Rooney up quite easily.
He's complained about the little plastic windows on mail (yes, snail mail. Do you get any still?) He's whined repeatedly about the stupid gifts his viewers send him. Mr. Rooney seems an old-fashioned fellow. I'm surprised he doesn't carp about people not saying a gracious "thank you" for gifts received.
Every time there's a new twist on anything, Mr. Rooney has been there to bemoan it.
So, here I am, in this middle age, giving more and more thought to how our culture is making us all into idiots, or how "we" seem to demand more idiocy in everything. Yes, I'm now squarely in Mr. Rooney's camp, though if you send me gifts, I will say "thank you."
I hate how emotions have turned into emoticons (even if some of them are clever, which this one is not). :-(
I hate the way we're communicating with txt msg pre-packaged feelings such as OMG and LOL.
I hate how we're confined to low character counts on Twitter and Facebook and how there's site after site of advice for the would be web savvy individual demanding that we learn to be terse. "People want to read status updates, not books!"
I hate how I want to say, "Go read a book, preferably something terribly long!"
I hate how the latest book I read, one of Picador's BIG IDEAS/small books series, was sloppy, stupid, and sounded as if it was a few month's worth of status updates.
I hate how every site on the Web now has the LIKE button. If someone dies, folks will hit that thumbs up LIKE button to give their condolences.*
I hate how Amazon has the LIKE button, but one can answer the question, "Was this review helpful?" with a yes or no answer, and it appears that people do not understand the question. The question is not whether one agrees or disagrees with the review.
I could go on, but I hate how the phrase "I hate" looks repeated so many times. I doubt I've used the word "hate" much on this blog, and the truth is that I really do not hate any of this. I find it worrisome, annoying, and infuriating.
Really. Though I disliked (no - hated) the movie Wall-E, I fear we will eventually become what's pictured above.
*There is no fan page for Death on Facebook. I checked.**
**Nor is there one for Life.
Why did I google "Did Gandhi use a typewriter?" No answer to that question; instead was directed to this photograph. I can imagine Andy Rooney asking, "What ever happened to the good ol' fountain pen?" I hate writing with a pen and paper. I love the rhythmic sound of a keyboard. Besides, I can't even read my own handwriting, though, if I slowed down, I have beautiful penmanship. That is quickly becoming a lost art.