Ann Landers fostered a faithful following. Her readers were of all ages, from all arenas of society, all yearning for solutions or curious about others’ experiences. She offered advice in compassionate, insightful pearls of paragraphs. The newspaper was her avenue of sharing. As newspapers decline, is there a social network avenue that will succeed in a comparable intimately honest way?
I can click and save quickly…then lose the nugget among thousands of other bits that I save and forget how to access. Oddly, getting the scissors from the kitchen drawer, carefully cutting out a touching column entry, then folding it to fit in a special spot in my grownup purse for rereading or sharing seemed more efficient. I have forwarded or shared tons of gems since I have learned how to use the computer, but there is no guarantee those tidbits of info were ever read. But, if I hand someone a clipping across a café table or at work, and I want it back, it will get read and discussions will ensue.
My printer could be used to print out favorite words of wisdom, but I have yet to fold and stick a print-out in my purse. Too much debate goes on before I hit the print button. How much ink is there? Are there any pending tasks that should take precedence? Will the printer work on the first try or will this become an aggravation? Do I really need to waste my paper on this? So much easier to have had only one question to ponder: Was everyone finished reading that section of the paper before the scissors hit it?
Cutting and pasting activities abounded in my formative years. I used words and picture pieces creating cards and posters just for fun. My teachers loved pushing us to expound on editorial cartoons, so that meant cutting them out along with the articles that supported my theories about cartoonists’ intentions, pasting the cartoons on construction paper, then holding the sheets up in front of the bathroom mirror as I rehearsed what I would say if my name was called on Monday.
Reading the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or the Globe Democrat was a multi-sensory experience. My eyes took in miles of black and white from slightly off-white sheets. Color splashes beckoned them to hop around before settling in to read a whole feature. Even the shinier surfaces of the inserts were enticing so I would yearn for the advertised products and gadgets. I liked the feel of the pages as I turned them. They were slightly thicker than the pages of my Mom’s Bible. I bemoaned the trouble it took to separate the slicker ones. After an afternoon in the paper, I would be wearing black smudges across my nose and forehead till bedtime if I didn’t remember to wash my hands. As I turned the pages, they made a slight rustling sound. If the rustle was interrupted, it meant I was finishing up a last paragraph or scanning the pages to make sure nothing had been overlooked before the next page came into full view. The smell of a damp newspaper somehow mingled with the aromas of a Sunday lunch that usually included mustard and pickles.
Reading the paper took time: time to mull over the awesome or the tragic or the outrageous news; time to ponder and time to laugh; time to share a portion out loud, even though others in the room may have already read it, or would read it eventually; time to go back and read the articles intentionally passed over the first time through; time to reread especially powerful pieces.
Newspapers…my mind’s comfort food.