The people who manufacture cellphones and electronic tablets are doing much harm to the people who manufacture paper clips. The electronic toy makers are riding roughshod over the paper-clip folks, and the future looks as though things might get worse.
I don’t mean that the cellphones and electronic tablets are being sold as devices for holding papers together. Rather, the e-toys are beginning to monopolize the frittering of time.
In the good old days (okay, they weren’t necessarily all that good, but they were old, of that you can be sure) if you happened to work in an office, and you had some time on your hands, you might fritter some of it, especially if the boss wasn’t watching. And as often as not, the form that frittering would take would be making things with paper clips.
Take paper-clip chains, for example. All the paper-clip chains that were made over the years probably could stretch around the world two or three times, then up to the moon, then on to Mars and back down to the moon again.
Paper clip and rubber band sling shots have annoyed entire generations of office workers, who might have been taking a nap only to have been startled awake by a whack to the ear by a bent paper-clip missile fired from a rubber band by a jokester sitting two desks away.
And animals made of bent and fastened paper clips have elicited many chuckles from armies of merry office pranksters.
The great paper-clip industry once fed these activities. But, alas, no more.
Now, you see the same people who might have spent time sharpening their chain-making skills instead frittering time away by tapping on their cellphones with their thumbs or waving at their e-tablets with their forefingers.
And it’s harder to catch them out as fritterers. They can always claim to have been working. That was a claim that, unfortunately, no paperclip chain maker could make.