Paper is NOT out of style

Two weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Sept. 3 copy of Western Carolinian in the Friends of the Library BookStore on Sylva’s Main St. I had not seen a copy of the school newspaper in what seemed like forever and could not believe my eyes. Naturally, I had to pick up a copy to read. 

As I read your “new issue”, my happiness grew to such an extent I knew I must email your paper with my statement of appreciation for your efforts. In the very writing, printing, and distributing this paper; you made my heart sing! Thank you.

Having grown up in the days when newspapers were an everyday fixture in many homes and after going through early childhood wondering why my mother felt the need to read newspapers daily; over a period of years, I transitioned through my own awakening process which helped me realize I treasured my elementary school newspaper, The Weekly Reader, and loved reading the Shelby High Outlook and college, The Western Carolinian. After college I moved to Lincolnton, N.C., and knew for me, newspapers were an important part of my life that I had to have in my home on a regular basis.

Because of that realization, my daughters’ childhood experiences were like mine. They saw daily and weekly newspapers in our home, as well as witnessed their parents reading them. And now, they are adults. and are repeating this habit. Thus, some things remain the same.

But, as should be the case, things change. Technology, a wonderful invention that has made our world smaller, has given us much at our fingertips, and in many ways has made our lives easier. But, as in all things, too much of a good thing may be bad. In my mind, too much technology is bad, especially when it results in the declining desire to read from actual newspapers, books, or magazines. Yes, I know these things can be found within our technology, and that is good. But, to have this convenience, what are we losing? For this ole fuddy-duddy, it seems two things we are losing are newspapers and books — not entirely yet, but little by little, which makes me incredibly sad.

The opinion in me thinks there are additional benefits for our brain when we read books, magazines, newspapers; and perhaps if I researched this more, I would discover studies to back up my opinion. Perhaps though, I would discover an equal number of studies to state the same benefit to our use of technology. Based on my own experiences, my brain retains a bit more information when I read from a paper held in my hands, and even better if after reading it silently a time or two, I read it aloud as well. There is something to be said about the benefit of using as many senses as possible when you hope to learn and retain information. . . or at least, in my mind, that has been the case. Plus, I just find holding paper in my hand a bit more satisfying than holding a cellphone, iPad, or kindle. I know, that sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Well, believe me, you won’t be the first person to assume my “thinking” is a bit crazy.

In thinking further about my preference for the written word on paper, I must say I will not go as far as saying I would have preferred holding a scroll in my hand over a book. To me, that always sounded tiring holding and continuing rolling up or down a scroll as you read it. And heaven forbid if I ever had to carry a rock tablet with the written word on it! Imagine how damaged our backs would be from either the scroll or the rock tablet! I much prefer a book!

The key point is to read! Read the book, newspaper, magazine, cell phone, Ipad, kindle, whatever gets you interested in reading and learning. That is what is most important – and regardless of your age, never allow your learning to stop! Oh yes, I am sure you all are intelligent enough to catch that I do communicate via technology – and the creation of books was also technology too, wasn’t it?  

My favorite method of reading is the written word on paper:  newspapers, books, magazines. It is what makes me happiest and because of my preference, again I thank you for your challenging work and effort on the paper copy of the Western Carolinian. Happy reading!

Betty Allen is a WCU alum from the graduate class of 1968. She is not employed or reimbursed by the Western Carolinian for this article. Her opinions are not direct representations of the Western Carolinian or WCU.