It was almost two years ago that I heard a strange mention of the Kindle on the radio. There’s a news quiz show called Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! (Three stories are read to the contestants — one true but unexpected, and two which are outright lies.) And that week, the category was “technology disasters.”
The first concerned Apps-berger’s syndrome — a newly-discovered medical syndrome in which people use cell phone apps obsessively to perform tasks they could just as easily do by themselves. (I was pretty sure that story was false!) And story #2 concerned a guy who insisted to his girlfriend that the sexy text messages she’d found on his cell phone had actually been pre-loaded on the phone when he’d bought it.
So was story #3 true or false?
It concerned a minister who bought a Kindle. Actually, not just a Kindle. Late in life, the minister become a raging technophile, while also helping elderly members in his congregation learn how to use technology themselves. (And at one point, he even placed a bet on the exact date of the Apocalypse.) He bought himself a pocket-sized Kindle, to which he downloaded the Holy Bible, and he always carried it with him in his jacket’s vest pocket.
One day while hunting, a gun accidentally fires a shot. The bullet rips through his jacket – and rips through his Kindle – before passing through the minister’s is body and then out his back. Two nearby hunters heard the shots, and rushed to the aid of the fallen minister. Looking down at the scene, one of the hunters said…
“Where the hell is your pocket bible? That would’ve stopped the bullet clean!”
The name of the news quiz was “You were supposed to make me happy!” And it turns out the true story was… #2. (The pre-loaded cell phone text messages — which was my guess. It reminded me of a similar true story about a cellphone that was pre-loaded with someone else’s pornography!) Still, it’s worth noticing that the Kindle was also included in this pageant of technology folk tales.
It shows digital readers are now becoming part of the popular consciousness. The same year I’d been watching Wheel of Fortune, and as Vanna White flipped the letters, it turned out that the contestants were trying to guess the phrase:
Somewhere inside, I decided that we’d past an invisible milestone. I’d turned to the mass media — and I’d seen people talking about the Kindle!