Digital news can’t compete with the surprises newsprint offers

It’s cold and wet and windy outside, and brownish-red leaves whip through the yard. Can I complete the dash without becoming soaked as rain pounds our driveway, bouncing up on the porch?

It’s probably only 60 feet, the distance from our front door to the sidewalk, but this early in the morning, with the darkened sky strangling the light, there might as well be a mile between me and the three rolled-up newspapers on the lawn.

I’m waiting, knowing full well that everything in the Dallas Morning News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times can be found online, but I still like to feel paper between my fingers as I sift through yesterday’s news looking for things that still have meaning today.

Today, I’m virtually a loner on this trip — the neighbors’ lawns are mostly empty. In fact, given our headlong flight to electronic information, I’m almost embarrassed to be seen with newsprint.

Years ago, if something big happened, we might have been teased with information on television or radio, but we would have waited for the newspaper to make sense of it all. We may have had opinions, but we couldn’t do much with them — sure, we might have wanted to remind Donald Trump he’s an idiot or tell Lindsay Lohan to quit screwing up her life, but by the time we hand-wrote our thoughts and found a postage stamp, the energy driving the hate was pretty much gone.

We don’t have that problem anymore, because in seconds I can join the many thousands on Lohan’s Twitter account or Trump’s Facebook page letting them know exactly how disgusted we are with their antics. No matter if tomorrow I’m not so hot under the collar and maybe even wish I’d held my digital tongue; there will be something else fueling my anger by then.

Social networks and the internet are doing a lot of great things in our neighborhoods these days, as you’ll learn from our cover story this month. Neighbors are finding each other, cops are tracking criminals, pets are being found, stores are selling stuff; while waiting for our monthly magazine, you can even find daily news updates for our neighborhood here at lakewood.advocatemag.com or on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

The internet makes all things accessible instantaneously, so there’s no wait to have questions answered or information found, as long as you know exactly what you’re looking to find.

But for me, a newspaper on newsprint still offers something more — the opportunity to stumble across something I didn’t know I needed to know. Like the story I read the other day about the death by brain damage of a 28-year-old Minnesota hockey player, or the story about why Army wound up beating Navy for the 1944 college football championship. These stories are on tablets or smartphones, too, but they’re harder to find because we have no reason to look for them.

I could survive without that random knowledge. But the information itself, stumbled across as I randomly flipped newspaper pages, offers something to ponder, to the extent pondering something is possible anymore.

Anyway, the rain finally has slowed to a drizzle, so I’m going to scurry down the steps, across the lawn and out to the street where the newspapers lay coiled in plastic.

I’ll enjoy them as long as I can, because like all of us, their time will end. Sooner, it appears, rather than later.


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