WARNING! This rant rambles a great deal. I plead a certain mental numbness due to shredding overload
I have just spent the last three days in intimate contact with a shredder and boxes of documents. You know, all that paper that we accumulate and then hold onto for 7 years? And, while we’re at it, who made up that 7 year rule? Is it a rule? Or is it a rule of thumb? (interesting story about that little saying but I’ll save it for another rant)
Now, I must confess that some of the paper I was doing away with was a bit older than 7 years. In fact, the earliest dates I found were from 1998. But that got me thinking.
If you’ve been listening to the radio (sorry, we don’t have television so I cannot comment there) you will know that this is the 25th anniversary of the invention of the World Wide Web. My mindless feeding of the shredder, hour after hour, after hour …. Sorry … digressing again… caused me to enter a Zen-like trance wherein I found insight of not enlightenment.
We used to (and in many cases, still do) use a veritable avalanche of paper; but the development of the Web is changing all that. Take bank statements and phone bills for example. I shredded at least two hundred bank statements totaling heaven alone knows how many sheets (multiple accounts from various institutions for those of you who came up with the number 84) and hundreds of pages of phone billing sheets. Now, bank statements and phone bills are available online. In fact, one phone provider howled on every envelope, “Go Paperless!” But, seven years ago, we were a bit more anxious about passing data over the Web. There were security and privacy concerns then. (Oh, Wait! That’s a problem now, isn’t it? Huh!)
Another great heap of shredding occurred with medical records and billing statements. One provider we had sent out single sheets of paper in 8.5 x 11 inch envelopes so that they would arrive flat, not folded. And they paid $.60 per envelope at a time when the bulk rate postage for other billers sending multiple sheets that made up ¼ inch thick monthly packets were paying $.37 per mailing. (And you wonder why health care and insurance costs continued to spiral out of control! Waste, Waste, Waste! See Harry Morgan’s debut performance on M*A*S*H … digressing again.)
Today, my billing still comes in an envelope but I pay it (and everything else) with online banking. At least there’s some savings there. But more importantly, my records and in fact, my contact with my doctor about minor issues, all takes place on the Web. If you must keep a copy of your medical records, there are apps a plenty to help you avoid the blizzard of paper.
In short, our world has changed, and dramatically, with the development of the Web. It has driven the invention and deployment of new devices, new media, and new opportunity. We may still be in our Internet adolescence as Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine calls it, but we stand on the threshold of a new and wonderful world of education, entertainment, and exploration.
Well, that’s my rambling rant for today. Now I have to take my shreddings out and get them ready to go into the new hugelkultur garden. At least they aren’t a total waste, they can become compost to nurture some new flowers and shrubs.