I am currently reading A Storm of Swords (Game of Thrones for the uninitiated), and no, it’s not some fantasy escapism made into adult only entertainment through graphic incest and dwarf sex. Ok, it is, but that’s no reason not to draw comparisons to Tolkien (mention Meyer and I’ll punch you in the ovaries). Personally I think Martin does well not to fall into LOTR’s mistake, of introducing a host of minor characters until you no longer know which way middle earth is. Considering the vast expanse of land, some separated by Sea, and others by a huge wall of Ice, Martin’s engineering of his cast of characters and their interaction through the War for the Iron Throne for me is superior and less chaotic than Tolkein’s equally ambitious creation. Ok, it does sound fucking geeky, and I normally the first person to snigger under my breath at WOW fanatics, or those weird skinny kids or bald and bearded men in black jeans and ear plugs that stake out basements waging imaginary battles with Wizards and goblins and whatever else. However, Martin, along with HBO (True Blood or Entourage anyone?), has managed to make this sexy, cool and screw it, I want a Dragon.
I’m reading it on my phone. It’s about 800 pages long, I’m half way through at the moment, and it’s lack of printed, physical shape doesn’t really bother me. I thought it would, I love a book as much as the next Match.com advert (or was that a music store?), but it simply doesn’t. I can stick my headphones in, listen to whatever I want, and whether its dark or light, whether I’m squashed on a train, or waiting for someone in the pub for five minutes, it’s always there. And because I don’t have a shitty under-developed and over marketed (but well done Apple, you owe the last year to your ad team, not your R&D division, who you probably paid a shit load less looking at Apple Maps and iOS6) iPhone, I can see the screen, download the book for free, and do whatever I want with it once I’ve got it. I wish it wasn’t so, but like Blockbuster, HMW, and the liberal Church, I think the printed word is dying. The only time I read a paper is if someone has left it the tube, and even then I am aware of the top, interesting stories through what I would now call the usual outlets: BBC News App, Google, Twitter and word of mouth. I even prefer reading a paper, but still I don’t. I am used to free information, when I want it, and I want to be able to multi-task while I’m doing it. Eating my breakfast, watching TV, commuting. A spare second is not longer a spare second. The smart phone changed all that. And do I care? Is it important that every second of my day is consumed by a phone? I don’t know. I don’t have the time to consider it. Maybe if someone writes an article on it, puts it online, it trends, and then I read it on some screen in a ever losing battle to stay ‘informed’, then, just maybe, I’ll consider it then. I’ve heard older people saying things like, ‘they’re always on their phones’. But that’s just it, it’s not just a phone. It’s a book, a games console, a browser, a map, a network of everyone you’ve ever talked to twice. In fact, what isn’t it? I found myself turning to it in order for it to give me something to do. Is that weird? Do I need to see a shrink because I hate my own company? Am I afraid of being alone? I don’t know, and I don’t care because I’m seldom unengaged enough to consider it.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Why are you reading this now? Could you be relaxing with your own thoughts instead? That’s what I thought. Vive le distraction.