It’s hard to predict the future, though many have tried. No, I am not talking about false prophecies of the end times – I am leaning more in the direction of entertainment, with television shows like The Jetsons. The fictional character George Jetson was, in the show’s plot, born on July 31, 2022. Something tells me that we simply won’t have flying cars and any number of the other gadgets featured on the show before our imaginary friend Mr. Jetson reaches his adult years.
Another example is Lost in Space, a television show from the same era as The Jetsons. In my undergrad years, I had to watch a couple of episodes to analyze the music from the show. Something that struck me is that regardless of whether the space travel and other technological advances of the show are accurate, this 2058 family sure acts and sounds like a family from 1965, with a man in total control of his wife and ever-obedient children. As much as writers and show producers have doubtlessly experienced generational differences in their own lives, it seems that we can’t help but assume that certain aspects of our lives will remain frozen in time. No matter how much things change, we assume that they are done changing.
Granted that I am not that old, as I age I can’t help but start to reminisce about the way things were, and find nostalgia for things which I never thought would matter to me. A recent example is that I have become obsessed with taking care of my TV remotes. One of my loveable-but-dough-headed black lab puppies (or perhaps both?) chewed the remote for our living room TV shortly after we bought it. Replacement remotes were out of stock, but “luckily”, the TV is a smart TV for which you can download an app on your smartphone that operates through Wi-Fi and works just like the remote. I put “luckily” in quotes because I absolutely despise it! Same buttons, same functionality, no issues, but I just plain hate it. The rest of my remotes are now on close guard, because I have come to accept that it won’t be long before remotes simply no longer exist. There is something about using a simple device from my childhood that brings an unmatched feeling of nostalgia, and you’re darn right I’m going to hold onto it for as long as I can.
Despite my feelings about TV remotes, there is something that matters to me even more. If I had to pick just one nostalgic thing from my life to be frozen in time forever, it would be print newspapers. With National Newspaper Week approaching next month, I have been thinking more and more about how much newspapers actually mean to me. The thought of newspapers takes me back to childhood, sitting in my grandfather’s farmhouse living room, woodstove blazing in the dead of winter, flipping through a copy of the Cornwall Seaway News. I looked forward to reading the newspaper every week because of the anticipation – there was a world of possibilities for what content would be in this week’s issue, and it was impossible to know what I was in for until I opened it up. I think it is for this same reason that I love getting the mail from the Post Office, a daily habit for which my wife thinks I’m crazy, since barely anything comes anymore. I will always love the anticipation of finding out what is in the box, and I am grateful for the occasional pleasant surprise.
In my adult years, the Times has been a source of that same enjoyment that I experienced in childhood. Granted that I write a fair amount of the content in it now, I still set it aside after getting it in the mail each week, and (eventually) flip through it with a cup of coffee. It is very difficult to explain what nostalgia feels like, but in the case of reading the newspaper, it symbolizes for me not only a happy childhood memory, but also the simple fact that my week has gone well, as I have time for a moment of peaceful recreation.
Arguments can be made all day long about news media shifting to online platforms as a sign of the future. But we can’t forget that print newspapers have the distinction of being accessible to all, and have a pervasive reach that simply doesn’t occur with internet news. One other problem with internet news, particularly on social media, is the speculation and outright nasty exchanges that often overshadow the facts. Of course, news cannot be reported as quickly in print, but dare I say that this is like comparing a historic muscle car to an electric car. Sure, one may be faster and more modern than the other, but it is a mistake to equate these points as the only indicators of quality and value. Staring at a smartphone screen and being fed low quality news instantly simply doesn’t compare to settling in a comfortable chair at the end of a tough work week and opening up a good old fashioned newspaper. With internet news, where is the anticipation? We should all take a moment to learn a lesson from Aldous Huxley regarding the perils of instant gratification.
I am proud to be part of the Times team. I can only hope that just as TV writers were wrong about flying cars in the 21st century, the newspaper nay-sayers don’t have quite as good a handle on the future of print media as they believe. Cheers to the pleasure of flipping through a newspaper on a quiet Saturday morning, and may this be one of life’s moments that can stay frozen in time.