in technology

Everyone Knows Everything

Before the Internet, before smart phones, before we all had every answer to every question at our fingertips, life was a lot different, wasn’t it?

If someone asked you a question and you didn’t know the answer, you didn’t know the answer. You had to figure things out, ask other people, engage in, you know, actual conversation.

And there was a sense of wonder and excitement when you got the answer you were looking for. As a comedian (who I cannot for the life of me remember his name, even after searching on Google extensively – so I know everything but that, I guess) once said, that moment where someone was able to provide you with the answer you were searching for – that was the moment when friendships were forged, connections were made, and people fell in love.

I’m a library of useless information

Now, if I don’t know something, I can hope on Google or Wikipedia and tell you exactly when Edward Cullen was born (June 20th, 1901), what the highest scoring football game ever was (222-0, Georgia Tech over Cumberland), or heck, even how big Anthony¬†Weiner’s wiener is (ehem, no comment).

And while we can now settle any debate on the spot without question, that sense of wonder, that sense of accomplishment – it’s missing.

After visiting with family and making fun of my cousin’s and their “old-school” Motorola phones sans Internet – I started thinking about how much different life is for them day to day…

Sure, they can’t use Google Maps to figure out where they are, no, they can’t watch funny cat videos on Youtube on the go, and yes, they have to actually wait in line at Panera instead of ordering their meal with an App. But somehow, they’re getting by just fine.

My cousin Jared thought nothing of it. When I asked “Why don’t you get an iPhone”, he replied, “Because I don’t need one”.

Most of you would be lost without your iPhone. You couldn’t even fathom not being able to play Angry Birds at any moment. My how far down the technological rabbit hole we’ve fallen.

I’m not an anti-tech hippie

The internet is a great and wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fanatic who’s going to run off into the woods and build a commune of internet-free, totally off the grid hippies. My career is centered around the web and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

But, we (I) have become too dependent on it. Now, I walk around the streets of Chicago staring down at my phone as it tells me where to go. I trust Yelp to tell me what the best restaurants are in the area instead of walking in and judging for myself.

And above all, I’m never wrong about anything, because Google says so.

So if everyone knows everything, how do we learn? How do we grow?

It starts with looking back to the days before we surfed along the “information super highway”. It starts with detaching yourself a bit from technology and embracing that it’s okay to not have instant access to everything. It starts with trying new things, even if Yelp says you shouldn’t.

For me, it was spending a week in Washington without any access to the web. The first time in years that I literally couldn’t search for anything or update my Facebook status.

Take a step back today and you’ll realize that you don’t need tech as much as you think you do. Feeling ballsy? Go on a “Digital Sabbatical” ala Gwen Bell.¬†I guarantee you’ll survive and you’ll come back appreciating the tools we have at our disposal that much more.

Everyone doesn’t actually know everything, the Internet just let’s us pretend that we do…

(Image c/o The Oatmeal)

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  1. Hey Matt,nnI COMPLETELY know what you mean. u00a0I almost forgot what I did to get my information before the internet. u00a0Not to mention how many trees I ran into because I was reading my Droid phone. :)nnMake sure to let me know the next time you’re in Washington. u00a0Ok? u00a0I’m in Seattle (Capitol Hill). u00a0Home of AMAZING cupcakes, beer and cafes. :)n*J

    • Will of course let you know next time I’m in your neck of the woods. I barely had any time IN Seattle, and want to take a trip back to actually see the city and spend a few days there…

  2. It sounds like you’ve got a good hold on this subject. Technology is important, but we often treat it as being *too* important. I make a point to leave my gadgets whenever I go camping, and also make a point to actually go camping at least once a month during the warmer seasons. I bring a book (a real book, not an eReader) and a hacky sack as my only boredom crutches. Oddly, I rarely need even those.nnDespite the fact that I do this pretty regularly, I still get that weird nervous “oh my gosh I need at least my phone!” feeling before I leave. But once the tent’s up and the fire’s going… it’s really easy to forget all that stuff and just enjoy theu00a0setting and the company. Plus, as you may have noticed while you were out here, signal strength really sucks once you get outside city limits on this side of the Cascades, so bringing gadgets along is futile anyway.