Here it is Friday again and I don’t have any quotes to post. I just haven’t done much reading online lately. Oh well. Maybe I will get back into the old routine soon or maybe I won’t.
I did find one quote this morning that I like, here, which I would have put on my Quotes From Here and There if I had had any others to go with it. But it sort of goes along with stuff I had already been thinking about so I’m sort of glad I’m doing this with it instead of just sticking it in a list.
“Look, you have enough resources within your brain to avoid being bored during a wait without some sort of outside stimulation.”
I really like that, and it’s not just that so many people have come to rely on electronic distractions; a lot of people just don’t realize how much entertainment they can find within their own brains and I think that was true even before there were so many of us walking around with smart -phones. Of course I do think living with all the digital gadgets has an effect, especially on younger people. Last weekend when we made our grandson get off the computer after five or six hours it was THE END OF THE WORLD! One of us grown-ups finally managed to coax him out of his “deep deep depression” with a simple, old-fashioned game of catch and once he got started he enjoyed it. It seems like once a kid starts relying on constant electronic entertainment he can’t unplug on his own. He has to have someone show him that there are other things in the world that are fun and maybe that’s true for some grown-ups too.
As to the popular claim that the Internet is making us stupider, one could plausibly make the same claim for writing. Before the invention of writing people had to remember everything they needed or wanted to remember and they had to talk face to face with other people to pass on information. But I think most people would agree that what we gained more than makes up for what we lost.
I keep my phone in my pocket most of the time. Last night we were watching Person of Interest and the guest star on it was very familiar but we couldn’t figure out what we had seen her on before so I pulled out my phone and tried to look her up on IMDb.com. This time I did not find the information I was looking for and still don’t know who that was but this is an example of what is typical of my life these days. If I want to know something – from the name of an actress to the price of a kitchen appliance – I can look it up immediately, right then and there. I have the world’s biggest library in my pocket. Also, a notepad, a calculator, a camera, games, a GPS unit… and what else? Oh yeah, a phone.
I have said before that I do not think people under 40 (or under 30 at least) understand how cool all these modern gadgets are. You have to know what life was like without them to understand. * 20 years ago the PC I used at work had a 20MB hard drive. We bought one of our own that had a 40MB hard drive. Twice what I had at work. Awesome! I had only seen mobile phones on TV. They were brick-sized things mostly used by people riding in the backs of limousines. Around this time I started hearing about the Internet but had little idea what it was and no idea what it would become. * 30 years ago I did not imagine that I would ever own a computer. Maybe a video game console. Pong was the ultimate in coolness. * 40 years ago computers were big expensive machines owned by governments and corporations. Even in Star Trek just regular people didn’t have their own computers.
But sometimes, even though I remember all that, I’m not sure I fully remember what it was really like to live it. I think, “It was the same as now only without all the cool gadgets.” It’s also probably impossible for me to understand what it is like to have never lived without computers and cell phones. But I can’t believe that people are really all that different. When kids didn’t have phones on which to text each other they passed notes on little pieces of paper. There has always been a strong urge to communicate. And kids have always gotten bored and complained, “There’s nothing to do.” But I do wonder if having constant access to electronic entertainment prevents kids from learning to deal with having “nothing to do,” and I’m not sure that forcing them to “unplug” for a while has the same effect as living in a world where there are no electronic gadgets. Instead of being inspired to find other things to do are they more likely to just sit around and pout and wait it out, since they know the gadgets exist and that sooner or later they will be back online?
But then, there have always been kids, and adults too, who would rather sit and pout than put out any effort to find something interesting to do. Maybe before there was television…? Nah. Technology changes everything except human nature.