Don’t use your tablet to swat a fly

While I certainly don’t want it to happen, it seems inevitable that printed newspapers are going the way of the dodo bird. Preemptively, I’d like people to consider what we’d be losing, and perhaps we can have a renewed renaissance and remove newspapers from the extinction list.

There was a joke circulating on the Internet, of a man asking his son to pass him the newspaper. His son, mocked his dad and said: “Get with the times dad, use my tablet.” The father shrugged his shoulders, took his son’s tablet, and smashed the tablet against the table. The son sat in shock, and the father said: “That fly never saw it coming.”

Tablets and computers can’t wrap a fish or help to light a fire. They would be useless to clean mirrors and windows. A newspaper is also much more cost effective as a drop cloth for painting, masking off areas to paint, and cleaning off paint brushes.

I remember my mom lining the dining room table with newsprint to save the table’s surface from a crafting project. Newspapers also were the basis of crafty ideas: from quickly folded pirate hats, telescopes and Asian-looking fans to papier-mâché masks and piñatas. Ever tried to fold a tablet or dunk one into a gluey mess?

The garage floor was also protected from oil changes with old newspapers. Similarly, training animals would be messier without newspapers. What would line gerbil and bird cages? How would people potty-train puppies?

What will signal the demise of a business downtown if newspapers aren’t masked into place to block out inquiring eyes?

What will line our gardening boxes for those of us looking to minimize weeds?

An iPad surely doesn’t have the insulation power of newspaper either: the previous owner of my old home had used newspapers in insulating her attic. I’ve also been told that cyclists will scrunch up newspaper and then flatten it against their chests under their shirts to insulate against the wind. While I’m on sporting uses, I don’t see old mp3 players working well at all for drying out the inside of cycling shoes after a sweaty ride.

Newspaper is also an excellent packing material, for bulking out the inside of a package you’re mailing, for separating and protecting dishes for moving. I’ve even used the comics as wrapping paper in a pinch.

A smartphone makes for a very ineffective, expensive, and ridiculous looking makeshift umbrella, when caught in a sudden rain, but a newspaper was a decent substitute.

(I hope that in each of these applications you’re seeing the comedy of how it would look if we tried to do any of these tasks with a tablet or smartphone instead of newspaper. Can’t you just see plates being stacked by movers alternated by tablets?)

What will old men in robes wear to shake at ne’er-do-wells from their front porches? What will private investigators hide behind in the lobby of a hotel on a stakeout? How will assassins hide their guns with silencers without a newspaper folded over top of their weapon? What will kidnappers use to send ransom notes if they have don’t have newspaper headlines to cut up into pieces?

If the printed newspaper dies, we’ll lose jobs at the newspaper, sure, but also throughout the printing and distribution chain, and the forestry industry would take yet another hit. On the flip side, I suppose we wouldn’t have ink stained fingers that inevitably transfer our fingerprints to light switches and cupboard doors when we go looking for a snack.

Overall, it seems to me that we’d be losing a lot more than we’d gain if the industry went completely digital, and everyone from optometrists to private investigators, fishmongers to dog trainers, movers, crafters and curmudgeonly old men could agree that it’s worth making sure that the newspaper doesn’t become a dinosaur.

Help me to bring it back from extinction today. Go buy a paper, or better yet, subscribe, and enjoy pushing your thumbs into the creases of the paper to snap it to rigid, listen to the sound of turning the pages, and be thankful that you have a paper at the ready to swat that darned fly.

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