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Let your fingers do the walking

Published December 04. 2010 09:00AM

If you're a Boomer, you remember the phrase: "Let your fingers do the walking."

It simply meant that you could save time and energy by looking up shop numbers in the Yellow Pages. You could give stores a call instead of walking to each business to discuss your needs.

Today, the very existence of phone books is threatened now that phone companies are phasing out the white pages.

Phone companies say the white pages are unnecessary because people now use the Internet to look up phone numbers.

This means phone books, which began in 1878, are now an endangered species.

One analyst put it this way: "Anybody who doesn't have access to some kind of online way to look things up is probably too old to be able to read the print in the white pages anyway."

Unlike the residential white pages, the Yellow Page business directories will continue as will the blue government pages, according to the Yellow Pages Association.

But phone companies will save money by avoiding the cost of printing white page phone books. They say landfills will be spared the extra burden of scrap paper, and trees will be saved, too.

And they say fewer people use paper directories for a variety of reasons. For example, more people rely solely on cell phones, and cell phone numbers aren't included in white page listings. Plus, mobile phones and caller ID software can store a large number of frequently called numbers, eliminating the need for consumers to use the phone book.

People who obsess about conspiracy say it's actually the beginning of the Master Plan.

Conspiracists believe the Master Plan is set on destroying all books. Those familiar with a novel called Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury will recall the idea that Big Government will order all books to be burned. But some are taking it a step further.

Some predict a One World Government will gain total control of the world population. The One World Government will make sure that people use only the Internet for all of their communication needs. At that point, a crisis will be concocted and the Internet will be shut down. When that happens, the public will have access only to official proclamations doled out by Big Government. Free speech will disappear, replaced by mind-control tactics of the Master Plan.

I don't agree with this theory. Some of it doesn't make sense.

Who has the power to "shut down" the Internet? The Internet is global. So who exactly has the ability or authority to step forward and turn it off like a light bulb? Even in China where the Internet is partially censored, it still thrives.

Personally, I think all of these developments reinforce the importance of the daily newspaper.

American newspapers have been around since about 1704 and have stood the test of time. If you're holding a newspaper in your hand, recognize it as a vital, tangible link to free speech and independent thinking.

Newspapers are the uncensored voice of the masses. In that way, they're the opposite of an oppressive Master Plan.

It's comforting to think that if the white pages disappear and the Internet shuts down, our fingers can still do the walking in the daily paper.

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