Information and How I Stopped Hunting for It
It was a normal weekday, this past week. I stood on the platform at the train station waiting alongside hundreds of other expressionless people. Each person was waiting to board his or her transit home. Earlier that day, scientists announced that water had been discovered on the planet Mars. The day was spent with speculation by all of whether or not people could eventually live there.
Admittedly, I was curious. I wanted to explore the idea of going to Mars. As if it were reflex, I pulled out my phone and searched the internet for: how long does it take to travel to Mars from the earth? In exactly 1.00 seconds, the internet returned my question with an answer and over 12,000,000 possibly related websites with information that could assist me further. I didn’t stop and think. I didn’t at all consider the profoundness of what I had just accomplished.
I spent my day wondering if, in my lifetime, I could leave this planet for a new one, yet I never hesitated at the notion of obtaining 12,000,000 sources of information in the palm of my hand in a single second. I thought for a moment about when I first used a device to locate information.
It was a normal weekday, in the year 1996. I was in the 2nd grade. That was the year my elementary school purchased computers for the library. I can recall learning how to start-up a computer for the first time and waiting for it to boot-up. My teacher explained that these had all of the information that we had in our encyclopedias, but readily available.
There were about 14 computers, which meant a pair of us to each. My partner and I browsed through categories and articles. We tested sound clips of bird calls aloud to the dismay of our teacher. At the time, I remember my interest in animals. I remember that it was always my nature to learn as much as I could about animals. The digital encyclopedia didn’t have small picture inserts. It had huge colorful displays. We were transported to the ocean, to the desert, to the tundra, and even to the plains of Africa where we saw the lionesses laying in a field.
By today’s standards, this was hardly an accomplishment. If I told some child today that I could show them a picture of lions in a field and even provide two or three short paragraphs with information on them, but they needed to wait a few minutes so I could load the program, they would run off.
In 1996, we were as patient as those lions in the field, but today, while the lions remain unchanged, we move constantly. Our insatiable need to have everything at our fingertips has overcome us completely. Our natural instincts are no longer in it for the hunt, but simply for instant gratification.
When I stopped recollecting, I realized my train was redirected to a different track and pulling out of the station. With a calmness of a lounging lioness, I asked my phone, “when is the next train home?”
In 1.00 seconds later, I had everything I needed.