Defeating the Digital Myth
The battle against perception can be frustrating, not to mention a losing proposition. Once an idea takes root in the American psyche, it can often take years to dissuade the masses from buying into a misguided notion. After all, it’s been thousands of years and, despite empirical data (not to mention outer space photography), we still can’t convince everyone that the earth is not flat.
OK, so maybe that’s an extreme example, but you get the point. Christopher Columbus did not discover America (which is why it’s named after Amerigo Vespucci). Marie Antoinette never used the phrase “let them eat cake” (it was written by Rousseau when the future ruler was just 10 years old). George Washington’s false teeth were not made of wood (they were found to be comprised of ivory, gold, lead, human and animal teeth). Eww!
For those naysayers out there who blame the media for everything, a little grist for the mill (both compliments of newspaper hacks in the Windy City): Mrs. O’Leary’s cow didn’t kick over a lantern that started The Great Chicago Fire in 1871. And, a little boy never uttered the phrase “Say It Ain’t So, Joe,” to Joe Jackson after his grand jury testimony resulting from the 1919 World Series fix scandal. Both were fabrications by writers trying to add personality to what should have been mundane, yet honest and accurate, accounts of what actually happened.
Fast forward 90-odd years, and we’re met with the largely popular, yet baseless and unfounded, perception that digital is taking the place of the printed word. Sure, 50 years from now—when electronic communication has almost completely pushed ink on paper to the edge of extinction—pundits may read this and laugh at the author’s short-sighted viewpoint. But, for the here and now, Kindles, Nooks, iPads, tablets and other various electronic devices have not fired off a kill shot to the heart of print.