Casualties of technology

As heartbreaking as it is, at least it’s good to know that The Courier-Journal will publish its last print edition on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Now that we know that, we can get back to fretting about iPhone vs. Kindle and whether the University of Kentucky has spent enough money to buy itself an NCAA basketball championship.

In case you missed it, C-J president and publisher Arnold Garson made the announcement in an op-ed reprint of a speech to the Rotary Club. He boldly told the Rotarians, “The Courier-Journal will publish my obituary and yours, but not its own,” which seems like an impolite thing to say to the elderly. Garson didn’t announce the paper’s exact last date, but we can do some basic math. Since the average age of a Rotarian is 103 and the average lifespan in America is 78, we can assume most of those obits are forthcoming posthaste.

Still, as newspapers around the country give up the ghost on an almost weekly basis, it’s safe to assume the print version of the C-J has a lot of life left. That’s because, historically, everything happens 25 years later in Kentucky. But that was before the Internet, which seems intent on destroying everything beautiful in life, old adages included. And yet, even in the age of OMG, it’s probably safe to assume that everything happens a good 10 years later here, so 2019 seems like the year for the C-J to go.

We can further assume the dark day will happen on a Sunday because, as papers die, they gradually reduce their content, stop home delivery, then reduce their frequency until finally they publish one last glossy Sunday insert from Kohl’s, plus a final full-color Family Circus cartoon to amuse any surviving Rotarians, then cough and stick in the fork. By throwing down the obituary gauntlet in mid-May, Garson unwittingly identified the exact date as Sunday, May 19, 2019 (though somebody might want to check my math). So we can finally stop wondering.

On the bright side, that gives the C-J 10 years to start creating digital journalism, which by 2019 will probably be something we download directly to the insides of our iLids. This will no doubt be an improvement over the paper’s current website, which looks like a JavaScript terrorist detonated Google Images’ collection of drunk people in cowboy hats and fishnet stockings. Of course, by then we will all be so illiterate and attention-deficit that today’s Twitter tweet will seem like a Victor Hugo novel, so Gannett probably won’t need deep content.

In “The Aeneid,” Virgil wrote sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangent, which, loosely translated means “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. And maybe everything that dies someday comes back. Put your makeup on and fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City.” But mainly what Virgil was saying was: “Newspapers are toast.” And now that typewriters, phone booths, encyclopedias, CDs, cookbooks, newspapers and face-to-face human contact are relics of the past, we can start penning the obits for other beloved bastions of society.

For example, futurists now project that books, higher education, strip clubs, grammar and straight marriage will cease to exist in 2023. In 2025, the last human being to go his entire life without a tattoo will be born. In that same year, the last person to feel truly secure in his or her personal body space will stumble upon The Drudge Report, and a human emotion that has existed for two million years will perish forever.

In 2030, the last steroid-free athletic competition will take place at a T-ball game in Bucknaked, Wyo. (Each player will get two trophies — one for showing up and one for enduring a grueling athletic competition without the benefit of performance enhancing drugs.) That same year will witness the end of professional sports, actual meat not grown in a lab, joie de’ vivre, LEO editor Stephen George’s retirement account* and democracy (which, curiously, will get voted off its own island). Religion will succumb in 2035, along with men, who will become superfluous when robot weed whackers are perfected.

So, as you can see, the transitory nature of life is something to celebrate, not bemoan. At least until 2039, when celebrating will become extinct. 

*If you see him, don’t bring it up. He’s in denial.