Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Turn The Page

I threw my phone books out the other day. For months they'd sat in a corner of my office, unopened and unused, victims of a world where, with a click of a mouse, I can get anyone's phone number, their educational history and a tour of their street.

Beyond its cockroach squishing properties, the phone book has outlived its usefulness. Yet parting with something as archaic and unwieldy as the telephone directory came with some unexpected nostalgia.

When compared with other anachronisms such as the typewriter or Polaroid camera, the space the phonebook occupies in my cumulative reference library of associations is limited. But as I dropped the volumes into the recycling bin, I felt a little of my life went with them.

It is difficult to comprehend a world without the phone book. How to forget the hours trying to find the number of a teenage crush. And what of those black-and-white scenes of detectives drinking coffee and spending all night calling every "Schultz" in town until the mystery blonde in the negligee picked up the receiver and whispered: "Be careful my husband might be listening". Does Sam Spade googling photos of someone's company fun run carry the same air?

A future without phone books is a radically unfamiliar world. Corrupt policemen will beat suspects with modems, and strongmen in sideshows will tear laptops in half. Interior designers will add "period" touches to the apartments of investment bankers by scattering copies of the Yellow Pages.

Every year the world and I grow a little more unfamiliar. No one sends postcards anymore. Wallets are being replaced by mobile phones with built-in credit cards.

Life before Twitter, cyber bullying or Paris Hilton had something to recommend it, if only that it didn't have any of them.

It was slower, knowledge was more precious for having been hard won, there was no glowing oracle to tell you every answer. If you wanted to find that forgotten high school love, you had to open a book and start turning, one page at a time.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."
~~ Charles W. Eliot, The Happy Life, 1896

My bookends


Aurora said...

Good Monday morning to you, my dear Peggy.

You understand the poignancy of it all so well. Life has lost some of th4e sweetness we knew as it makes its inevitbale march forward.

How lucky we each are to cherish that which is good, that which gave us precious memories, and that which will do so with meaning in the future!

That was a wonderful quote about books at the end.

I miss the old days of phone books, of telephones with no answering machines, of writing letters instead of sending e-mails, of tellers in the banks who remembered my name, of smog and pollution not yet being a choking reality, of dinners being when all of the family was home at once.

I miss innocent Rogers & Hammerstein musicals instead of sci-fi movies!
I'd take Peggy Lee, Duke Ellington, Andy Williams and Nat King Cole over the amplifiers and special effects of what passes for concerts today, with rap and hip-hop being considered music when to me it just sounds like noise!

Yet I keep my caring and enjoyment for nature and friends intact - like you. No new-fangled invention can take that away:)


McMGrad89 said...

Feeling a little nostalgic?? We have phone books. I still use them, not for people but for plumbers and such. My mother of course still uses them too. Every once in a while, I throw them out.

HappyOrganist said...

I send postcards! Actually they're little real cards, not postcards. I hate phone books, though. We get 3 (at least) delivered to our door each year. I think it's more like 5 or 6 actually. It's insane. I started just throwing them out as soon as they arrive (recycle bin. I only hope they end up recycled). We do keep 2 or 3 phone books "just in case" (just in case the sky falls in). It's not like you can find anything in them anyway. ah well.
They're good for holding Christmas trees up! Actually, smaller magazines are better for that (we used to keep National Geographic, I think it was, around just for that purpose).

Mike Smith said...

And when was the last time you received a letter, Peggy? Not one of those typed, brown envelope jobs - but a lovely, hand-written letter? Writing used to be an art...

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article Peggy - you are honing your style. And I agree with all you've said. Maybe there is still a use for the Yellow Pages - as a doorstop?

But Googlers beware – who is to say that what you read on the Internet is true? The factual content of any webpage is only ever as accurate as its source. I could publish a page on nuclear physics - and if enough people clicked on it, it would come top of the Google list. But should you believe it?

You know where you are with a book – I don't see libraries dying out just yet, though their days are indeed numbered. We should look after them and support them - like endangered species. You don't miss something til it's gone... (Apart from Yellow Pages, never did love them anyway!)

Hybrid J said...

Thank god, I was not the only one who missed my phone books. I had the same feeling when I dumped them in the recycle bin. Sometimes I feel like the world is growing away from me or I'm moving from the modern world. A great post for contemplation! Thank you for sharing.

P.S. Thank for being there when I'm a bit nutty ... you're a wonderful blogging friend.

zhen said...

I was having this same discussion the other day...saying how I felt like I've been left behind by technology and everything is getting too fast or swishy I need help with technology(!!!)


p.s you do actually need the books...eg when your net goes down...this happened to me and I had to ring people to look things up for me...the original is often the best! I still like my old school CDs complete with album inserts I have yet to buy an mp3 album....yuck! But then all the CDs made these days seem to be of such crap quality one or two uses and they didn't play right....*sigh

Lilly said...

Peggy, clever post. I just read today that in the UK they are getting rid of phone books. A saving on the environment I guess but you are right its just one more thing we are familiar with that bites the dust.

I lvoe writing paper so I do send handwritten notes BUT I could never write a whole letter because my handwriting is very poor now as I am so used to typing.

If you look at our parents generation they have the most beautiful and writing. Thats kind of sad really.

I am not game not to keep up on the technology front simply because I think not to is dangerous in the long term and possibly isolating. Although I no long twitter (cannot see the point), do not have a Facebook account (have no time) and am now realising that one has to be careful with the internet too (takes over).

Imagine what the next ten years will bring. I never had a chance to ring but dont have any more news at this point, will know more after the 22nd. Say a prayer!

Ces said...

Okay I am convinced we are twins from different mothers because I too feel the same way about the phone book and I also have a photograph of me wrestling with an alligator.

But our beloved friend Renee, she is at peace now. I miss her terribly so.

Hope all is well with you Peggy.

Silver said...

Peg.. i have been so busy.. even though i was always thinking of Renee.. i always thought she will always be there.. doing her thing.. you know, spreading love, inspiring and touching lives..

i just..

Anonymous said...

I miss handwriting letters like I did when I was a kid. There was something so great about the process of writing a letter and putting a stamp on it, and then mailing it. I really miss that.

Roban said...

I still have a drawer loaded down with a few phone books.... and I do pull one out every now and then because I don't always want to get on the computer. What I remember about phone books when I was younger was how parents would place them in chairs to boost little ones up to the table....

My husband just announced that with three people and three mobile phones in our home, the land line is going way.... I'll miss it. And I am sure, nearly positive, that I'll go over my minutes just talking to his mother.

Marja said...

Hi peggie It's quiet at work so I stole some time to do some blogging
You are a great witer.
I am still from the stone time, use the phonebook a lot and have no mobile phone. Always was a bit slower I think. I also send postcards to all my family and friends in Holland and love it.
I really hope you are going to enjoy your great adventure. I had a little adventure too ,well eh sort of.
My son refused to write anything, after 2 1/2 year ago a teacher showed his work to the class and told them how awfull it was (he is very dyslexic) last week he had to write a poem about war and he wrote
a long poem. Everybody was surprised. I was over the moon.
Anyway ka kite ano See you soon

jen said...

You are so keen at observation, not to mention humor. I can't wait to see a laptop torn in half.

Caroline said...

Ahhh...the phone book. My gosh, I do remember looking for boyfriend crushes in there! I have not used the phone book in at least a decade! Holy cow. It seems a waste to make them anymore. But what a reminder of the past and how fast the future is coming into the present. Kind of scary actually! xo

miruspeg said...

G'day, Hello, Hi, Howdy, Oy...

Have I told you lately how much I appreciate your comments?? Thanks for taking the time to not only read my blog but leave a comment. I love how you all have expressed in detail your interpretation of this post. :)

"Simple moments are the best treasures, like when you read a comment from one of your regular followers, and it lifts you up and makes you smile. That is a simple moment. I hope you have many of those today".

But before I go, I received an email from Fel (Silver) today, it spoke about how words affect our health, so I would like to add:

You are wonderful
You are beautiful
God has a plan for your life
You have a great future
You are strong
You are blessed
I love you.

Peggy xxxx

Ribbon said...

I enjoyed this read, thank you.

The only sure bet is change ;)

best wishes

amy said...

Nothing will ever compare to actually holding a book, turning the pages, smelling the smell of paper.....

I love books, including phone books.


miruspeg said...

Thanks Ribbon and Amy for stopping by and I can completely agree with both of you....change is inevitable and nothing will ever compare to holding a book in our hands.

Peggy xxxx

June said...

Peggy, this is such a great blog! I really have enjoyed reading/looking at it. I saw Joseph at a day old. That was so nice.