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Inanimate Loss

June 15, 2010

Today I find myself mourning a loss…that of my Kindle.  I’m eternally absentminded and as a result tend to misplace things all the time.  Generally speaking they turn up after a while, and frequently in places like the shelf of a closet, a drawer in my kitchen, the pocket of the car, or (once) on top of my car—and how that TomTom survived overnight in the rain without breaking or being stolen is still a mystery. 

 

My Kindle, sadly, has been missing for about three weeks and has still not surfaced.  I find myself devastated (being an avid reader) at its loss, which has me thinking about loss of material things in general and why it bothers me so much.  Now my Kindle is an inanimate object that can easily be replaced.  So why does its disappearance engender such a feeling of sadness?  Well the cost of the thing sure is part of it, but pushing that aside for a moment I think there’s more to it than that.

 

When we have some object we are attached to, losing it feels like losing a piece of who we are.  A part of our identity.  This is especially true of our modern conveniences—the things we use every day.  Lose your cell phone and you will frantically go to the nearest Verizon/AT&T/T-Mobile store and beg for a replacement because being without your phone is unimaginable.  What about your iPod/Zune?  What ever will happen to you without your music for the day??  We won’t even contemplate a computer or laptop.  God forbid one should have a failure and you lose your data.  Even when we are talking about objects that we don’t necessarily use every single day, it’s amazing how important they become to us once we realize they’re MIA. 

 

Then there are the irreplaceable items—your grandmother’s earrings that fell off, the High School Yearbook that went missing the last time you moved, or you child’s first cut lock of hair—that’s one of my losses.  They are things that have little to no monetary value, but it is what they represent.  They are connections to something, someone, someplace that was very significant to us.  Losing those ties can be as devastating in some cases as the loss of a loved one. 

 

I think the same can hold true of the cell phones/MP3 players/e-Book Readers.  They provide us with a connection to something other than ourselves.  They are our links to the world and when they go missing we feel incomplete.  The unfortunate thing really is that no longer do we truly feel connected to one another through direct human interaction.  Instead it is through third-party apps.  Machines.  Technology.  I suppose that some connection is better than none, but what are we truly losing?  In some ways, our humanity.

 

I’m probably going to buy a new Kindle, and about 31 days later (after the return period has expired) my old one will turn up I’m sure.  Perhaps I will then give it to my sister.  We can have a human connection through a love of reading—if I can get her to realize how wonderful the written word is—that’s at least a step in the right direction.

 

 

 

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