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Sinclaire Sparkman: The new town square is a rectangle

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Jun 21, 2018 at 1:00 PM

As is the way of the world, old things pass and new things take their place. No longer does the town crier stand to yell out announcements to passersby, nor do we need to travel to the library to gather information. It’s all right here, probably on the thing you’re holding right now to read this column. If you’re enjoying a print newspaper, good for you. 

I find Lebanon unique in that many here are comfortable with sticking to what has always worked for them. There’s no need to voraciously seek something new just for the reason that it is new. It is probably one of my favorite things about the town, and it has given me the opportunity to work for a small newspaper that until just recently printed five days a week. As is the way of the world though, we adapt to changing times. 

There is value in history, not only in stories either, but overall in the way we used to do life together.  

We rarely come to the physical town square anymore without good reason, whereas the town square used to be a sort of gateway to the community. It was the be all end all of commerce and quite the best place for listening ears to glean gossip and bits of daily news.

As I look back to old pictures of the Lebanon Square, it’s alive with commerce, people, horses, cars and trade. Over time, gradually, the people begin to rush past it, probably thinking less and less of stopping to enjoy community on what was once a hotbed of life here. In fact, the most pedestrian activity I’ve observed on the square in my two years here was the onset of the Pokémon Go craze, which inspired calls for police intervention and complaints on the place we now convene for gossip and news tips, the new town square, the rectangle in your pocket.  

Yes, the world has changed. And don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience and treasure the fact that we can be so connected today. Our new town rectangle is wonderful in that we find all this knowledge in the palm of our hand. Sometimes it just seems so small a thing to replace a face-to-face conversation and provides an alternative to spending time with real people rather than reading their public thought bubbles.  

With this amazing tool of modern convenience, it’s easy to think we don’t need each other anymore. But that’s not true. The town rectangle may have pushed aside our innate desire for in-person community, but I think Lebanon is a place that recognizes its importance. 

Be it a sports league, a gathering around common interests or a revised vision for an existing place, we do want to get together. I believe that’s true beyond Lebanon as well. All we need is a place to do it. 

Since the town square has morphed into a tiny rectangle, where now do we go to find community? 

Sinclaire Sparkman is The Democrat’s news editor. Email her at ssparkman@lebanondemocrat.com and follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.

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