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Perspective: 101 things we've lost to the internet


I kicked off my summer reading with Pamela Paul's engaging 100 Things We've Lost to the Internet. Chockful of sage observations, it explores how the internet has rewired our brains, changed our habits, and made us less present in the real word. Her nostalgic descriptions of card catalogues and Rolodexes make us aware of all the objects that were part of daily life and have now been relegated to the dustbin.

A vacation in Door County added number 101 to the list. While my son was checking out our hotel room, he noticed there was no Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, there was a card with a Q code. It was a minor switch that should not have mattered, but its absence marked another loss. A physical book had been replaced by an app.

These endless transformations have resulted in substitutions where we trade in an existing artefact for speed and convenience. True, the words are the same whether they appear on a page or a screen, but the experience of reading has been permanently altered. Holding a book and turning the pages are different from scrolling and skimming. Every time we give in to portability and access, we sacrifice touch, feel, taste and smell. Our world becomes flatter, less memorable and more homogeneous. So, I mourn another loss that has made life less textured. Farewell Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. Little did I know I would miss you.

I'm Frances Jaeger, and this is my Perspective.

Frances Jaeger is an associate professor of Spanish at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include Latin American contemporary poetry as well as Caribbean and Central American literature.