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)