"Have you met the new intern?" she asked.
"I have. I like him well enough, but he's got a book fetish."
"A book fetish? As in, he gets a hard-on for books?"
I thought about it for a second. "No, not exactly. I guess I should've said he's got an antiquated sense of the importance of physical media. It was just easier to say 'book fetish'"
She watched me from behind her coffee mug. "You're still gonna have to explain that one," she said into her cup.
"Okay, I've known him like for like three minutes, right? After the director brought him to our area. I'm sitting there reading something on my tablet—I think it was the morning Times articles or whatever—and he comes over and he's all like 'E-reading? Not for me' like I'd asked him or something.
"So I look up and it's early and I'm not in the mood to argue, especially with someone I've just met, so I ask him if he still reads the physical newspaper. I think I might have been a bit of a prick about it and asked him if they even still printed physical newspaper, but you get the point, right? So he looks right down his nose at me and starts spouting off about the merit of being able to hold physical media in your hands, and know that it was made by other hands. From some stranger's hands to mine, like I was sharing a moment with someone I'd never meet."
"Did he go on about how they smell? A lot of those bibliophiles will do that, you know."
"No. I was waiting for him to say something about it, but he never did. But he kept at it for a few minutes, as I'd given him a half-patient ear to yap into. And the more I sat there listening to him, the more his speech took on the quality of a dusty artifact, you know? The guy's younger than me, no question, but for a moment there I swore I was listening to some wizened old sage wax poetic about the days of yore. That's really what that all comes down to, isn't it? The stories and information aren't somehow made better by the fact that they're printed on dead trees and bound in the skin of some dead animal, though if you do think about it in those terms reading does take on a whole other more morbid meaning. If you like reading from a fragile piece of reality, cool. I'm not anti-book, not by any means, but if you give me a choice—"
"You'll go with the digital. Yeah, I get that."
"Plus it's way less of a headache when you have to move, to not have to also haul a ton of dead weight around."
"So how did he respond to your views on the matter?"
"Oh, I kept that all to myself. I just smiled and nodded, all agreeable. Maintaining the workplace wa, right? But it was a little epiphany there, the rifts in thinking that technology creates."
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