Thursday, January 10, 2013

'Wonder without googling.'

I read Janell Burley Hofmann's An iPhone Contract From Your Mom article with an appreciative grin. Though my adolesence was no where near as digitally connected as her 13-year-old son's is in 2013, many of the conditions she listed reminded my of my own parents' rules and restrictions around TV watching, internet usage (when we eventually got dial-up at home in the early noughties), and eventually cell phones.

We were relatively-late adopters of the internet; neither of my parents needed anything beyond a word processor for their jobs at the time, and I don't think my sister and I realised what we were missing out on until that memorable day when my mother signed our Windows 98 PC up with Hyper Net.

Anyway, this isn't a trip down memory lane as such. But rather my thoughts on the single line that stuck with me from Hofmann's article, the conclusion of her contract's 17th condition and the title of this post; "wonder without googling".

I'm driven mad by people who automatically share sob stories on Facebook, without checking their legitimacy (some of my best friends are auto-sharers). I rarely post anything, anywhere on the internet without checking every fact and word definition I'm not certain of, and am mortified when called out on something that's incorrect. I know this anxiety is excessive, and I know which elements of my past it stems from. But even before those experiences, I still loved facts and learning and knowing for certain I had the correct answer.

Before the internet, I grew up with a bunch of reference books scattered around the house, and lengthy lists of borrowed items from the town library. If I didn't know something, I tried my best to look it up, and then I'd ask my parents and have to accept the answer they gave.

Now, with an iPhone in my pocket and nine (nine?!) internet capable devices in our apartment I still wonder all the time, and know I can satisfy my curiousity almost immediately. Several times Charlie has asked me what I'm doing on my phone, and I'll reply that I'm googling the answer to a question I have about hibernation or embalming or World War II. I'm scarcely out of the bathroom before I grab my phone to google something I was pondering during a good think in the shower. I love Google.

But I wonder what difference it would have made to my development if I'd been able to look up those facts any time I wanted before even starting high school? Bypass my parents' possibly-censored answers to some questions completely. I distinctly remember my mother telling my late-teenage self that I didn't actually know everything, and had a lot to learn. And at the time I really, truly, didn't believe her. Indeed, thanks to the internet, I probably knew a lot more of the facts of life than she gave me credit for. But later I of course realised she was referring to the experiences and lessons life continues to give us. Would this ignorant belief that I knew it all have surfaced years earlier if I'd had free access to all the information the internet can offer as a child? How would my imagination and creativity have been affected?

For a 13-year-old, I think 'wonder without googling' is entirely appropriate, but when I first read the article I thought perhaps I should apply Hofmann's advice to myself as well.

If, as an adult, I didn't have constant access to Google, would I wonder more or less than I do now? Would the frustration of not being able to know an answer for sure, drive me mad? I'm leaning towards yes, as there's a reason I often wander away when drunken conversation turns to the meaning of life. Would I be more creative and imaginative, or less inspired and motivated if I didn't have access to the rest of the world's artwork at my fingertips?

Being honest with myself, I know there's no way I would voluntarily reduce my Google usage. Now I have access, I couldn't be without it. What's your take on it?

Image source.


Teddi said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

alice, researching sucked before the internet. i'm old enough to remember. i'm so glad we can google now. :)

Renee said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This post is right up my alley, I wonder this all the time. Researching & learning pre-internet was definitely painful but of course as there were no other options, you didn't know any better. I also often wonder if conversations have dulled a bit too, if a fact is questioned, someone has their phone out in 5 seconds, there is less discussion. I guess that's a good thing too.

When I studied my degree ('07-'09) some professors made us have at least 10 books in assignments and I think that made me appreciate the internet more because our generation wants an answer found in one search, no wasting time. And you know we need that extra time so we can.....go on the internet more.

wow this is long.
P.s I have a new blog!

Dori the Giant said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love this post. I wonder about this stuff all the time. I'm also a huge Google freak. I Google answers to random things I wonder pretty much every single day.

I think there are both pros and cons to this though. Since we know everything is on Google, we often try less to go research and retain information in our brains, since we feel like if it's in our phones, it doesn't need to also be in our brains!

I am extremely thankful for the internet though. Knowledge changes your life.

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