Needle in the Haystack

After posting the Forbes article “Rethinking Tom Brokaw’s ‘Greatest Generation’: Was It Really the Greatest?”, by John Tamny, I realized that some of the inspiration for why I intend to tailor this blog to my generation in specific came from my reaction to it.

Tamny references an article by John Silber, a former President of Boston University, stating:

“In it Silber lamented society’s declining ability to memorize anything; his point being that technology of the cellphone and computer variety has made it so that everything we need is there for us at the push of a button. Silber noted that back before those technological advances, human memory was prodigious.”

Tamny drives home the point that technology has enabled humans to evolve in the respect that we are able to devote more brain function to higher thinking  rather than wasting it on lesser tasks now accomplishable by machines.

Essentially, human evolution occurs when one generation becomes so skilled at the practices of previous generations that they can move on to new things. Technology has enabled our generation to shed so many previously necessary skills, that we find ourselves spending massive amounts of time on extracurricular activities like social media and video games.

Coffee-Connoisseur-Just-Coffee-ArtJust this evening my father asked: “Are you a connoisseur of coffee just because you looked it up on Google?”, a light-hearted, smart-ass, comment by a 50-year-old who won’t believe a thing I tell him I’ve read on the internet. I’m not surprised, this is the last generation to really grow up without it. The last of us to have a practical need for a library other than for an outlet or  an ethernet cable. And certainly the last to ever touch an encyclopedia.

The problem is this: they are unable to understand how easy it is for our generation to learn from the internet. They don’t trust it because they don’t trust themselves to reliably find it. We were proficient with the internet before Google was Google. I can reliably find information on any subject I could dream of 99.99% of the time. Why?

Growing up with the internet during the years when my brain was at it’s peak plasticity, I learned computers the way my dad learned cars and my granddad learned factory work. We all come of age during different periods of history. The events of the period in which you are born have a significant effect on not only your life, but the lives of your entire generation.

Our generation, the millennials, we know technology like the back of our hand. We don’t all share the same depth of knowledge, but the core fundamentals are present in every one of us. Early in life we learned to find information just like our parents did, but through a different medium.  Thus, with the tap of our finger we have the ability to learn anything we could ever want.

The best part? We never have to stop learning. Where my parents can’t keep a set of encyclopedias around to stay sharp (for endless reasons), I have the world in my pocket, literally.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Whether I use the internet to teach myself single variable calculus or how to brew the best cup of joe, I learn something every day just by clicking Google Search.

“Indeed, the sacrifices and knowledge needed in the past don’t elevate the people of the past, rather what we don’t know and know how to do compared to them speaks to human evolution that makes each generation greater than the previous one.”


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