Why do we keep eating?

Originally published at: DogWalkBlog.com

hamburgerWhy do we eat? The simple answer would be that if we did not eat, we would die. But that is not entirely true. Science can provide us with a pill we can take that would provide exactly the nutrition we need — no more, no less — to keep our bodies healthy. Yet, we resist the notion that a pill, taken three time a day, would replace daily meals.

But stop to think about the advantages. We would not have to dedicate fields of grain to provide food and the competition for corn for food vs fuel would go away. Obesity and all obesity-related problems would be solved. There would be no need to produce, ship, stock and dispose of tons of toilet paper, no more diapers in landfills, the amount of carbon being pumped into the air by restaurants, food processing plants, etc. would reduce significantly, no more decisions about what to eat, productivity would go up as we would not have to take time away to eat; tons of benefits.

There is something basic about experiencing food beyond the nutritional needs human being have. If we advocate that we get rid of food and replace it with pure technology that has only minimal stimulus of the body, i.e., the act of swallowing a pill with liquid, people call you a lunatic, crazy, “that will never happen.” And, they may be right; they may be wrong. But, for today, they are wrong.

So, why are we applying the same argument to newspapers, books and all non-digital media? Seth Godin examines this by asking If newspapers were to go away, what would you miss?. And I think he gets it a little bit wrong. He focuses on the NUTRITION of newspapers, rather than the EXPERIENCE of newspapers. Most prognosticators of the demise of newspapers do. It is easy to pick apart the need for printing stuff we already know on paper and deliver it with a high rate of failure to houses all over a geographic area. But newspapers are more than the information they deliver.

A newspaper is something you can touch and experience. You can smell the ink, the paper, the air that gets trapped in the bits of fiber. The paper has a crinkle and rustle that is unique to a broadsheet newspaper. All of these sights, sounds and touches are the experience of reading a newspaper. A newspaper is also that short jaunt out to the driveway in the cold morning air, followed by the welcoming paper and hot coffee. Throw in the fact that a newspaper reader is perceived to be smarter than the guy sitting next to him with iPod earbuds screwed into his ears, head bobbing up and down to the latest indie track he downloaded from BitTorrent. Newspapers envelope a human being with an assault on the senses with each reading experience.

It is unfortunate that many only see the newspapers as delivering yesterday’s news and not a full-on human experience of the senses. Newspapers will be missed when they are gone and we will miss a sensual experience that will, in the future, define an era as distinct as the era of the horse and the era of the auto.