I'm Googling a little obsessively lately and it's occurred to me that information, both correct and incorrect, is just too readily available on the Internet. This isn't the first time I've had this thought, it's just resonating today. We don't have to work for information anymore, we don't have to talk to anyone, we don't have to go anywhere. Just today I managed to find some herbal remedies for a medical condition I've diagnosed myself with, selected a new camera to buy for yearbook, decide on a new recipe for dinner, start a web page program for my students, check if Barnes and Nobles carries a book at the store so I can look at it before I order it on Amazon, and see what my electric bill is so far this month (don't ask). I'm not kidding- all between the hours of five and seven.
It's just too much. There aren't any surprises anymore, the concept of mystery and wondering becomes completely irrelevant at the press of a button. Our experts have turned into faceless beings that claim sufficient knowledge- instead of making the time to create a connection we ask the source that's open and all too ready to help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all for the low price of an internet connection.
Once upon a time, back when I was twelve, I was doing a project on the Hetch-Hetchy project in Northern California for science and had to request past newspapers from the circulation desk at the public library.They went downstairs to the archive and brought back bundles of newsprint.
Once upon a time, back when I was ten and wanting to figure out when my favorite used bookstore, Yesterday's Books, opened on a Saturday morning I had to pull out the phone book, look up the number, and call for the information.
Once upon a time, back when I was seven, I had to do a report on astronaut Sally Ride. I went to the library and looked up the information in a card catalog, jotting down the call numbers for the relevant books with tiny pencils on scratch paper thoughtfully cut into small squares by librarians.
Once upon a time, when I was six, I accidentally said the "N-word" because I was looking up different locations on a globe, learning how to use latitude and longitude. Unfortunately, there was a little African American boy in the group and the whole situation ended up with me crying. Wait to set me up for failure, Niger.
Bottom line- we used to have to work for our information. There was a sense of satisfaction that was gained after a long afternoon in the library with notes scribbled in my Trapper Keeper (what what) and fresh copies made from the machine I pumped dimes into (there is nothing more adult-like to a middle schooler than using a copier without an adult). I don't feel that way after hours spent at my dining room table with my bleary eyes glued to my computer's screen.
Side note: Did you know that card catalogs are now nifty DIY sort of projects that upcyclers love to distress and put in their homes? They use the drawers for their kid's crap or their office supplies. Would I balk at having one in my front room? Hell no (in fact I kind of want one now...), but you can bet one drawer would have some actual cards in it.
But, on the other hand, this whole "information at your fingertips" monster is terribly efficient. The things I was able to do this afternoon would have taken me several hours worth of phone calls and appointments if I hadn't had the ability to look them up on the Internet. I'm a busy woman and there are only so many hours in a day. I've got shit to do. Lots and lots of shit.
But, back to the other hand, the romance is gone. This whole technological revolution is like an old, boring marriage- we've been together awhile and I'm becoming nostalgic for the days prior to we vowed to stick together forever. Technology gives me what I want but doesn't challenge me- we don't fight anymore, we don't try anything new. Every night all we do is Google
with the lights off.
I could start making massive parallels to our society, and how this is indicative of a larger epidemic- the laziness that is today's people. But I won't. This diatribe is nothing new, we've heard this song before. And I'll be honest- while I'm sitting here pining away for the days of yesteryear I know very well that I'm not going to change. I'll check Facebook when I'm done typing this, peek at my email, and glance at the weather so I know what to wear tomorrow. I'll continue lusting after the iPhone 5 and and iPad, and will forever use technology as a way to communicate. Despite all this I can still think it's sad. Maybe Siri will know what to do.