Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity. – Sigmund Freud
That must be wonderful; I have no idea of what it means. – Albert Camus
Last week, battling a head cold that left me resembling a tree sloth, I was trying to remember if the saying was feed a cold and starve a fever, or vice versa. I wasn’t planning to put it to use, I’ll eat and starve as I please, but I just couldn’t remember. Five seconds on google, and I had the answer.
It’s funny the things you miss once they’re gone. Like LPs and getting carded and the fact that there is no more ambiguity in the world if someone within earshot has a smartphone.
I Know This Much Is True: It takes twenty minutes to get anywhere in Los Angeles. It takes five seconds on google to say, “I told you so.”
Only it isn’t really “I told you so” when google tells you. Which means, amongst other things, that sibling rivalry has lost one of the greatest lines of all time. Also disappearing are “Go ask your father” and “Because I said so.”
I can’t remember the last dinner party/lunch/meeting I was at where phones didn’t sit table-side, frequently checked for a million things other than a phone call. (Emily Post must add placement of a smartphone to flatware arrangements – left of the bread plate, perhaps?)
I’m guilty of it, too. Like the other night at dinner, I was describing The Peter’s Map to someone. Why couldn’t I just be satisfied in explaining that the world map as we’ve been taught is all wrong? That, in fact, North America is about half the size that we think it is. Why did I need a graphic presentation? I could show it, and so I did. But I didn’t have to. (For the record, I generally keep my phone in my purse at restaurants, and not on the table. It’s partly to be polite but mostly out of fear I’ll spill a drink and end up with a not-so-smartphone.)
As a writer and editor, my style is a mix of old school and modern technology. I have an iPad but no plans to give up on my love of real, live books with dog-eared pages and highlighted passages and notes scribbled in margins.
I’m quite happy to have a brain filled with facts and ideas and random bits of information gathered and stored for later use. It freaks me out to see that kids barely a generation younger than I am don’t seem to be mentally cataloging much. They don’t need to store it because they can access it from a server. But what about when the server is down? And they go down. All the time.
I hate to sound, ahem, old, but if we stop using the parts of our brains that exercise critical thinking, how the hell will we survive?
I love google, I honestly do, but like spell check and the use of emoticons, all things in moderation. (How do we fight illiteracy if we allow kids to use spell check – yes, I’m up on my soapbox now.)
Sometimes being a smartypants is just boring. There’s no mystery. No excitement. No imagination. Once upon a time, a person who knew it all was called…a know-it-all. And it wasn’t necessarily a compliment.
Like the Slow Food movement, I’m looking for a Slow Info movement. Relishing the moments when something is on the tip of your tongue and the satisfaction of when it simply clicks. The click of a synapse, not a mouse.