My missing genes

I’ve always known that I’m missing (happily) two genes possessed by most members of the population: the parenthood gene and the sports gene. I have absolutely no connection to babies. I can walk past a baby or a toddler and retain my adult mannerisms — I don’t start babbling unintelligibly just because a person is less than 2 years old. I enjoy the children in my family, but I’m not drawn to a child just because he is a child. And sports bore me. I just don’t find any interest in trying to hit or throw or kick a ball or puck or beanbag into a hole or basket or net. Especially with my head.
Recently I’ve become aware of another gene I’m missing: the obsession over electronics that most people of the world exhibit. I struggled with a typewriter and correction paper while writing college term papers and typing resumes, so I appreciate the benefits of computers. But a computer is a tool and nothing else. I use it at work and am grateful for the ease of writing, revising and correcting, and the Internet serves me well every day, whether to check a fact for a story I’m proofreading, verify a name in an obituary or find hours for a museum listed in Let’s Go.
As useful as the computer can be, it remains a tool I use at work. Our laptop stays turned off for weeks at a time, we don’t have Internet at home, and I am too busy with the three-dimensional world when not at work to stare at another glowing screen. I prefer pens and paper, self-generated music and books printed on paper, and if I need a computer badly enough I can always visit my mom.
I don’t see the fascination with Kindle. Can you Kindle readers buy a used Kindle book for 25 cents or a dollar? Can you touch the past when you hold that little plastic device? Nothing will ever replace a book for me. The feel of good paper, an attractive dust jacket, especially those before everything went glossy and flashy, and the heft of a heavy book sturdily bound in elegant covers win hands down over a plastic electronic device. (As I wrote this, I paused to answer a newsroom question: Is the past tense of sneak sneaked or snuck. While answering the question — it’s sneaked; I was right — I saw Snoqualmie Falls on the same page in my printed dictionary and learned that it is a waterfall in Washington on the river of the same name, which flows west out of the Cascades. I doubt you’ll stumble across such interesting trivia in Kindle or in an Internet search.)
I’m not fascinated with cellphones. We own a Trac Fone that we use on trips and for emergencies, but most of the time it is turned off, and we struggle to use 60 minutes in three months. The only expense we have is buying a $20 card every few months to add 60 minutes.
I’m not interested in broadcast television or radio other than the occasional public radio news program and classical music show. We own a DVD and VCR, but no signal comes to our TV from the outside world. We are proud that we form our own opinions about issues, and we don’t spout the latest fad phrases because they aren’t hammered into our brains several hours a day.
I’m not interested in electronic social media. I recently signed up for Facebook at work only because some organizations offer Facebook pages, not regular websites, and so Facebook is the only means I have to check information needed for proofreading. After I registered, messages started arriving about people wanting to be my friends, but I’m not interested. I have looked at Facebook pages, and they are ugly. They are cluttered with messages and little photos, one per message, and I am especially puzzled by organizations that use Facebook as websites and have people post their questions with their goofy miniature pictures next to the questions. Why don’t these people call or email the organization? If I want to ask my cousin a question, for example, I’ll send him a good old-fashioned email or call him. If I want to know the hours of a business or museum, I call or email. I don’t need to put a goofy picture on a website for the whole world to see, letting everyone know business that is between two people. And I still don’t know what Twitter and tweeting are.
The result: We don’t spend hundreds of dollars on cable and Internet bills, cellphone contracts and electronic books. I don’t need electricity and a bag full of chargers to read, write and play music. When I drive, I watch the road, not an electronic device, and I don’t talk on the phone. After this, I’ll have offended everyone I know, but that’s okay. You can’t unfriend me anyway. Besides, I’ll be in the barn reading with my goat.

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