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What do e-readers say about the reader?

February 22, 2011
Groucho Marx

E-readers create anonymity - exhibitionism is clearly the only hope now for people trying to share their personality with others

It’s an old journalist turn of phrase  but the newspaper you read often tells others more about you than the clothes you wear. In the past you could take a view on someone reading the Daily Mail, the Morning Star or the Daily Telegraph.

Likewise, you could cast furtive glances at a pseudo-intellectual reading War and Peace or be contemptuous of the mass of sheep reading the latest Harry Potter for “street-cred” reasons…

So the question is, how does a Kindle, or a Nook, or an i-Pad tell the same story? Alas, none of these reader solutions does anything for “street-cred”. People don’t know what you’re reading. They don’t get an insight into you. You become anonymous. Any intellectual credibility you had is lost. To the girl across the carriage you are sadly depressing… To boy on the platform you are mildly underwhelming…

Why should this matter? Vanitas, vanitatum et omnia vanitas, after all… But strangely it does matter. Reading shows depth of personality and what you read shows people how you might think. It might highlight quirks of personality, adherence to a cause, a passion for a subject.

Electronic readers merely tell the outside world that you have become even more anonymous than ever you were. You have become dull.

But maybe anonymity is the way to go. After all, it is the ultimate manifestation of Groucho Marx’s adage that he wouldn’t be a member of any club that would have him as a member.

But Groucho Marx at least had an interesting face. And the world is far more interesting when variety is more important than the behaviour of crowds. In this context, E-readers are but the brown paper bag of the glue-sniffer beneath the arches, the ketchup-stained wrapper of some half-eaten burger, the rust stains on a clapped-out car. E-readers are now but dull blemishes as humanity passes by…

Now, where did I leave my copy of HC Darby’s Draining of the Fens?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. indieanorak permalink
    February 23, 2011 7:30 pm

    funnily enough I’ve just written a similar post about record collections – the same applies. Middle aged men trying to cling to the old ways!
    http://indieanorak.wordpress.com/

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