Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Give Me Something I Can Hold On To

I contemplated titling this post "What's Old is New Again." Despite our penchant for the next best thing and forward momentum in all facets of life, Americans (I can't speak for the rest of the world) are known to occasionally turn back time (Cher is usually involved). We see it most commonly with fashion when someone decides that bell bottoms, leg warmers, high waisted pants, shoulder pads, Bermuda shorts and pantsuits should be reintroduced to society. What's less common is taking a step back when it comes to technology and how we spend our time. This year I'm struck by the return of coloring, Polaroids, and old-fashioned printed books.

Though I've never considered myself a trendsetter, apparently I was on to something when in 1989, while in middle school college, I purchased a coloring book and crayons. You might assume this was because I had no social life and needed something to do, and that's true, but it was also a reflection of my need to disconnect (though I'm not sure what I was plugged into except my hot rollers) and allow my my mind to get the rest it needed. Coloring is also known to improve focus, relieve stress, and improve fine motor skills. When combined with wine, it also becomes an social activity. I can't say I've been invited to any coloring parties lately, but I suppose those Painting with a Twist places are the more upscale equivalent to getting together at the dining room table with your preschooler's crayons and colored pencils.

I acquired my first post-1989 coloring book just a few weeks when I found one at Five Below. The kids even treated me to a box of crayons to go with it. Having finished my first picture with crayons, I recommend using colored pencils instead. Just a bit of free coloring advice from me to you. Coloring is an excellent pre-bedtime activity. The blue light emitted from tech devices is said to affect sleep, whereas the blue pencil, crayon or marker has no known side effects. And if all of this doesn't convince you to pick up a coloring book, consider this: inexpensive artwork!

Now, on to pictures of a different sort. The 1977 Polaroid. When I think of the Polaroid, I think of my Aunt Faify who brought hers to every family gathering. The quality of those photos was never great, but there was something special about the instant results. Of course, with today's technology we're accustomed to immediacy, but what our smartphones are lacking is something to hold on to. Think of the billions of photos floating around in cyberspace, resting in the cloud and eating up valuable space on our devices. With the Polaroid, we can generate actual prints that we'll later stuff in shoe boxes, which eat up valuable space in closets and attics.

And finally, books. It appears that books--the kind made of paper that require you to physically turn the pages--are making a comeback. In the past year, news headlines have included:
"The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead" --NY Times
"Paper is back: Why 'real' books are on the rebound" --GeekWire
"E-book sales plummet as print stages comeback" --Fortune
Of course there are a variety of theories as to why this is happening, but at Christmastime, I can say with relative certainty that few people are gifting e-books for the holidays. They're just too hard to wrap. It could also be related to that blue light e-reader issue, and our need for healthier sleep habits. I know I'm all for anything that helps me sleep. I love sleep the way other people love parties. But I digress.

When it comes to "kickin' it old school," I have a prediction for 2016. I would wager a bet that friends will start hanging out again. In the flesh. There's just something to be said for reading the expression on someone's face instead of responding to the emoticon. And real hugs are much nicer than virtual pokes (does anyone do that anymore?). And making actual memories that last a lifetime is so much sweeter than snappy exchanges that disappear in a moment.
Here's hoping your holidays are filled with something you can hold on to!