There was a comedian the other night on TV whose name I can’t recall, but whose topic intrigued me. He was commenting on how our lives have lost a little something now that we have access to the internet in the palms of our hands. He said we don’t get to feel that longing for information anymore that went unsatisfied for days or even months before the iphone. (And Google, for that matter.)
In my case, pre-iphone and Google, I had Sandy. Sandy was a co-worker, friend and one time roommate. She was also the greatest resource when you needed to know the name of the dog in “Bringing Up Baby” (George) or when to send Patrick Stewart a birthday card. (July 13.) But, Sandy wasn’t always around when I needed answers. Sometimes I had to wait until I ran across someone who could supply the missing piece to the puzzle. That, or open an encyclopedia.
What did we do before technology? Imagine you’re in a coffee shop one day and hear someone mention Elon University. You think, “Where is Elon University, anyway?” You ask around. No one knows. Your friends don’t know. They may hazard a guess, but overall, you just don’t have a satisfying answer. Days go by. Weeks. UNRESOLVED. Then, one day, you are flipping through TV channels and see a report on Elon. You wait until the announcer says, “North Carolina” and instantly feel that surge of relief. How GREAT does that feel? You don’t get that same level of relief when you Google something that stumped you for maybe 15 seconds.
We don’t enjoy that sense of NOT knowing anymore. The possibility that we might NEVER know the answer. To piece together mental evidence until we figure something out, or come across someone else who has a piece of knowledge we lack. That’s how we made friends. That was a conversation. Now, we sit in rooms and make fleeting eye contact with each other between furtive glances at our phones, our fingers itching to brush across that screen.
I’m guilty. Recent earth shattering questions of mine resolved electronically include:
What is it called when someone lacks a sense of smell? (Anosmia. Not “snarfled” as Max insists.)
Who starred in the movie Gods and Monsters? Ian McKellan. (Not Ben Kingsley, as I insisted.)
What foods could cause a person to break out in hives? (Don’t ask.)
Was it Helen Hayes or Lillian Gish in The Unforgiven? (Gish.)
Does a duck’s quack echo? (No. Maybe it was a frog?)
Could I have lived without all that information? Yes.
I promise to make an effort to NOT resolve all my questions with a quick Google search. I promise to WONDER about things and discuss them, rather than immediately cleaning the conversation slate. I promise to better satisfy my intellectual curiosity by feeding it quality over quantity.
I promise all those things – just as soon as I locate the comedian’s name who started this whole thought process. THAT is driving me INSANE.