Way back in 1992 *snickering* when I wrote a term paper on the de Medicis or amoebas or whatever, guess what I spent most of my time doing:
A – Doodling my future signature, Mrs. Brain Surgeon, in the margins
B – Wrestling with that %@$! dot matrix printer
C – Wandering stupidly around the library, pretending I understood the catalog system
If you answered A, B, or C, you’re right!
Clearly I was a stellar student. Anyway, I am old enough to reminisce about the “good old days.” I’ll prove it. I owned a record player, leg warmers, and every Air Supply album. I remember when the Mickey Mouse Club didn’t involve on-camera gyrating. When I was a kid, I kept a Swiss army knife in my pocket – even at school! – and no one cared. I think my teacher once borrowed it to open a box. This same teacher also taught Christmas carols and the Foxtrot. Who else remembers when a floppy disk was actually floppy? Who actually knows what a floppy disk is? (Hint: Not a dirty joke.)
Granted, the invention of the internet (thank you, Al Gore, you genius!) marked the advent of black market virility meds and Nigerian lottery scams, but oh, the wealth of knowledge at my fingertips! What does a supernova look like? When was celluloid invented? What is an “oxygen thief?” Song lyrics, medical symptoms, global news, funny cat pictures … Anything at all in the universe I want to know is only a Google search or app download away, and I don’t even have to type the query. The voice command feature on my smartphone does it. I live in geek paradise.
Remember my shoddy term paper on the Transcontinental Railroad, or whatever? Fast forward a few decades to my graduate dissertation on J.S. Bach. Not only did I have instant access to every known manuscript worldwide in any language, I pasted the text into online translators and saved giga-mega-whatever-bytes of data on a thumb drive, all without changing out of my muumuu and rollers at home. I found more information than I knew what to do with – everything from Bach’s letters, coffee habit, arch-nemesis, and shoe size. That research paper rocked. I tried not to doodle in the margins. Still had to wrestle with that #@&$%!&$%#@! laser printer.
I’m still in awe of The Internet. Urban Dictionary. Recipes. Poison control. (Yes, sadly there’s a correlation between the latter two.) Did I mention funny cat pictures? Debate me on this if you want, but academics and philanthropy aside, I think the most important function of the internet is either to answer the weird questions kids ask (Why is air invisible?) or to settle stupid arguments (American Idol is on Season 12. Told you so).
If knowledge is power, then the only obstacle preventing our evolution into intellectual titans is the willpower to step away from Minecraft. And now here’s a funny cat picture. I found it on the internet.