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What About Recreational Restroom Usage?

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Yahoo tip-toes around the copyright laws Google belly-flopped into earlier this year, and digital music revenues triple those of 2004 (tell me again how P2P piracy is hurting the music industry?). When newspapers stop clogging up the bathroom faux-recliner, it appears, it won’t be long before CDs, books, and other hard-copy, physical forms of entertainment find their way lost in city sewers.

Okay, the CD part may be an exaggeration. I can see how a rise in the digital music trend has spawned such physical devices as the iPod and other not-so-famous MP3 music boxes, but who listens to music in the bathroom anyway? I know some who focus only on the task-at-hand, but it’s a competitive world, and that daily, 5-minute missed opportunity is going to leave them trailing like the renegade toilet paper spy, hiding out, inconspicuously, on the bottom of their right loafer.

I was never one to take the sports pages into the bathroom; the pages are too large and make too much noise, not to mention the physical distraction of keeping the page straight-vertical rather than flopping down like an inverted taco shell. But, since I can remember, listening to the voices in my head plan the rest of my day – those tend to echo in enclosed spaces and make for unwanted stall-to-stall conversation – was wasted time that could be better spent reading a magazine article or book chapter that I knew I’d never get around to reading so long as there was a working television, cell phone, or computer at my disposal. So, I set a book or a magazine out somewhere in my bedroom so it was easily located and grabbed when Nature, so unpolitely, called.

(Sometimes, I actually fool myself into believing I need the sit-down break just so I can simultaneously finish a book and cure a bad case of needing to write something but not really in the mood to.)

Maybe this information from Yahoo was intentionally released just after Banned-Book Week as a sort of “don’t worry kids, all the books your teachers and parents say you shouldn’t be reading will soon be available online, no library card required” supported back-slap. As ideal and revolutionary as that is, what happened to stealing a copy of A Wrinkle in Time from that one teacher that seemed to keep a Wal-Mart-like stock of all the books the school library wouldn’t carry? You stole the book, then, because it was cool to steal stuff from teachers. But, in truth, she wanted you to steal it because she wanted you to read it. Why else do you think the book always magically re-appeared in the following weeks?

When Yahoo makes the digital library successful, it will be proof, yet again, that the Internet might be making things too easy for us. But it’s no fun anymore. There’s no risk, so there’s no return feeling of accomplishment. When things cease to be fun, you see trends like the tripling of MP3 revenues and have to assume people are either too scared or too lazy to push the envelope on their freedoms. Music piracy is wrong, which is why so many people did it. But, with all the pay-for-music-you-want sites lowering rates, the risk isn’t worth possible consequence, and big business wins again. What about the book industry? It’s more meaningful to give your personal dog-eared, marked-up copy of A Wrinkle in Time to someone than to give them a web address where they can scroll through it in black and white themselves. Besides, the battery on my laptop cannot withstand my bathroom adventures. ED/PUB:LM

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