My daily newspaper has deflated, merged and turned its Business and City & State sections into a blend called "Triangle & Co." It sounds like the name of a boutique for educational toys that I might find in a boxy shopping pod at Brier Creek. So goes the decline of the old American newspaper. Instead of picking up a roll of fish wrap at the end of my walk, I guess I am now expected to join the Wi-Fi masses over a three-dollar breakfast muffin to squint at an interactive map or slideshow. No thanks.
A browse of infinite internet interests means we can mechanically click, close, minimize, search, scroll, drag and hyperlink our way into a bleary-eyed daze in no time. Instead, I would much rather clip, dog-ear, tear, circle and fold. And I do not think the world is flat or remember when anyone before Ronald Reagan was president. My Triangle & Co. is leaving me hungry for something else.
It is easy to forget where you are on the Web. Getting lost there is not too far removed from the feeling one gets from a dinner-spoiling snack: gritty digits rubbing each other before each pinch, empty stares at the waxy cardboard bookends of crackers and pasta, the glare of a pantry bulb while you stuff your face with one bite after another. When you look up from the binge, it feels like a hungover time of day when the matinees let out and you are not quite ready for the heat of your sun-baked car or whatever is next. It is much too easy to check your e-mail one more time, read the comments on the blogs you follow or have just one more bite.
I experienced a different kind of reading the other day on my lunch break in a library. Lacking a clear direction after eating my sandwich outside, I strolled indoors to the current periodicals. I picked up a glossy magazine that I would have thumbed at a bookstore and sat down. Leafing to the table of contents, I looked at the menu and then slowly turned the pages, letting myself focus on layout, design, photography and advertisements. Unlike the Internet ads, the ones here had to speak for themselves. There was no clicking for more information. There was no flashing. There were no annoying video loops of people acting surprised because they had won something. I did have to hold my hand down on top of a subscription postcard that was glued inside.
I became engrossed in my choice article. Time flew by, but in a measured way. I finished the story, checked my watch and put the magazine back on the shelf. It is a shame this observation felt noteworthy. It is a shame I had forgotten what pleasantly full felt like.