We used to not know things.
All sorts of things.
We’d seek answers to these vexing questions by asking those older or wiser than us, turning to our encyclopedia Britannica, or if all else failed, visiting the local library. This arduous process of researching a question and exploring concepts before we had an answer took time. But there was an upside to it — the slow process of intellectual discovery gave us time to consider the possibilities and form our own ideas.
We pondered, probed, explored.
Today, we have smartphones with Siri and tablets that make the whole process unnecessary.
Want to know how to make an aioli dipping sauce? Bing it.
Want to know how a pandemic flu spreads? Tap Google.
Need to learn more about the significance of Antoni Gaudí? Wikipedia will tell you.
The point is: answers are now ready and waiting 24/7. In the Internet age, they may not be objective or even correct, but they’re answers nonetheless.
This instant accessibility of answers is exciting and empowering, yet surely dangerous at the same time.
By never “not knowing,” we live in an age when most people seldom explore deeper concepts. We’re so focused on the instant gratification answer that we no longer value the process of intellectual exploration.
More importantly, consider what we are missing as a result. Fewer people are undergoing spiritual journeys or seeking self-discovery because they’re so based in the answers that information technology and science provide. Philosophy is dying, perhaps because the questions it asks can never be answered. And wisdom — something that takes a long time to achieve — is seldom an adjective that we use.
And to take a few steps further out, there are surely random discoveries and deeper, universal insights about the human condition that will never be understand, simply because the journey to answer challenging questions is being undertaken less. That is, unless a quick and instant answer is available.
Just something to think about.