Why I Refuse to Become a Slave to Technology

My Publishing Philosophy Explained

Occasionally, some of my colleagues in the publishing industry will ask me why I continue to produce a traditional, hardcopy newsletter that goes out to readers’ physical mailboxes. A lot of my peers have been convinced that an Internet-only fulfillment model is superior. They tell me I could save a fortune in printing and postage costs by moving everything into “the cloud.”

So why haven’t I joined the digital revolution? My response is that, in many ways, I have! But not to the extent of completely abandoning what got me here and what most of my readers still value. Downloading an image of a newsletter and viewing it on a computer screen just isn’t the same experience as having a professionally printed newsletter in your hands!

Of course, over the past few years, we’ve greatly expanded our Internet presence. We’ve grown the number of free email alert services we provide through our Executive Bulletins. If you haven’t yet signed up for them, you can do so via our web site (www.IndependentLivingNews.com). It’s totally free! In addition, we’ve created a social networking forum on Facebook (facebook.com/IndependentLivingNewsletter) for sharing breaking news items and interacting with readers.

But I’ve always believed that our flagship products deserve to be presented on ink and paper for the people who are willing to pay for them. And personally, I’ve always found it easier to stay focused and avoid distractions when I have important reading materials in my hands rather than on a computer screen.

Research Shows Digital Devices Drive People to Distraction

Science now backs me up on this! Scientific American (November 2013) reports, “Digital devices prevent people from efficiently navigating long texts, which may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done.”

Moreover, staring at illuminated screens for long periods of time just isn’t healthy. It can cause eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, and stress.

Today’s generation of young people is growing up addicted to computer games, iPads, smartphones, and other digital gadgets. We may not know the long-term consequences of this device dependence for years. But it does seem that in many ways today’s kids are being cut off from the world, spending virtually no time outdoors or in libraries reading books. Instead, they seem to be leading virtual lives on the devices that they can’t put down for more than a few minutes at a time without suffering withdrawals.

Well-meaning parents and grandparents who encourage kids to engage with educational materials or bedtime stories on electronic devices may inadvertently be training their developing young minds to have shorter attention spans. The Scientific American article I referenced, authored by Ferris Jabr, also cited a 2012 study showing that young children “remembered more details from stories they read on paper than ones they read in e-books enhanced with interactive animations, videos and games. These bells and whistles deflected attention away from the narrative for the device itself.”

Set Aside Time for Disengaging from High Technology

I’m not suggesting that you throw away all the electronic gadgets in your house. They certainly have their place for entertainment and can make a lot of tasks more convenient.

But I do suggest limiting the amount of time you (and especially your impressionable kids or grandkids) spend on digital devices. Set aside time every day for reading actual paper books and newsletters like this one in an area where no computers, tablets, or TVs are accessible, and your smartphone is turned off.

I hope that my family of readers will continue to appreciate the look, feel, and contents of this oldschool newsletter, because there are just some things that technology can’t yet fully duplicate or replace – even in 2014.