The warm rays of sunshine peering through my window illuminated my room with a soft golden glow; every surface had an almost ethereal outline from the sunshine. I opened my eyes slowly, listening to the excited birds sing their morning preludes. My sheets were like melted fudge, covering my body in perfect form. After a long, rejuvenating stretch, I sat up and grabbed my favorite thing in the morning: my book. I opened up to the pages of Frank Herbert’s Dune and was instantly transported to an imperial interplanetary political system, watching sword fights and ancient rituals. After breezing through fifty pages of bloodline political disputes, I closed my book and grabbed my iPad. As images of ancient villages faded from my head, they were replaced with new thoughts as I read a New York Time’s article written just minutes ago. After reading for a moment, I stepped back and reflected on what I had just done: Within thirty minutes I had transferred from an analog experience to a digital one – something I do so often during the day that my mind barely even acknowledges the switch anymore. And yet, the switch that is made is something quite significant.
There’s something about reading that is beyond simple words on a page. Something that is more than arbitrary sentences strung together by chance. In a book, a story is unraveled, a voice is heard. Personally, I feel that having a real book, not an eBook or a digital book, helps accentuate that experience. Somehow, when holding a physical book with pages and a spine, the stories held within come alive. The seemingly tangible reality, that feels so real, trumps the distant, elusive, digital one.
The feeling of authenticity from analog experiences frequently upstages the synthetic happening of a digital one. Think of writing a letter. The analog experience is something noble, rewarding and timeless. The act of physically writing on a piece of paper, addressing an envelope and mailing it is a special experience. Even record players – the feeling of placing that sharp needle on a freshly unwrapped vinyl and hearing the smooth bloom of music is a feeling that iTunes simply cannot replace. The touch of real ivory piano keys can never be exchanged with hard plastic ones. The natural music created by the contact of fabric to a string cannot be mimicked by an edited, synthesized sound.
People are attracted to these tangible things because they allow personalities to blossom. They allow a spark of human ingenuity to be seen. The very knowledge of working a record player merits an applause nowadays, while any person can press play on Spotify. There is so much personality in old-fashioned, tangible skills that is to be respected. When someone writes a letter, the time, thought, and presence are all appreciated more than a casual email.
With that being said, the digital world allows us to expand on our personality’s creativity in a different way. When I read the New York Times article that morning, it wasn’t possible without the conveniences of the digital world at my fingertips. What I am doing now, Blogging, allows me to get my thoughts out to an audience that I couldn’t imagine without the help of a computer. Abstract photography can now be shared in an instant through uploads on Facebook. Pandora radio allows me to hear all the music I know and love. And innovative videos sharing new ideas would never be seen without YouTube. In short, we need the digital world to help us expand our creative potential.
Ultimately, however, the warm, personalized feeling of analog, and the creativity of digital both work together to create a harmony of outlets for human expression. One without the other isn’t sufficient. Find the traditional art form that digital platforms can’t replace, but still embrace the technology that allows creativity to expand and develop. The combination of the two is a fusion of art and potential – a fusion that is unique and rewarding to experience.