The Generation Of The Instant Answer

This is the generation of the instant answer. We have come to a point in society where almost any information we want can be obtained in mere moments. Want to know who sings this song? Shazam it. Who played Cop #3 in that movie? Find it on IMDB. There is a general trust in the mechanisms of our time, like Google, that they will provide us with not only answers, but the correct ones.

There is no doubt that many, if not all, of these services make our lives easier. Still, how do we know the quality of what we are receiving from these sources is as accurate and reliable as the information we can find offline or firsthand? What is lost when we stop searching on our own and instead fall accustomed to trusting and relying on these mysterious virtual answers.

This isn’t just something that has sprung out of nowhere with the expansion of the Internet and all of its subsidiaries. Almost any Gen-Yer grew up completely dependent on calculators to do the math that previous generations had to manually work out. I was once in a non-math related class where the teacher asked me to solve some sort of simple equation.

I laughed and told her that I am basically inept at solving math problems and I was okay with it, because I’ll always have a calculator (on me/my phone). She then questioned what I would do if I needed to solve a math problem in a post-apocalyptic world with no calculators. I jokingly said, “I hope I’d be dead then,” and she, not-so-jokingly replied, “I’d hope so as well.”

Despite its borderline inappropriate nature, her response stuck with me. If there were no calculators left, I would not be able to do any math I encounter -- and I’m talking basic algebra. I’ve always been a right-brained kind of person (Arts, English, History) as opposed to the left side of Science and Mathematics. However, just because math didn’t come naturally to me, I essentially gave up on it and left the fate of my knowledge in this area entirely up to a computer.

This is what I fear that the influx of Internet technologies will do to the current and future generations. Because something doesn’t come easily to us, or maybe because we are just to lazy to put in the effort, we leave it up to the computer. How does depending on the online search engine affect the power of our own?

Clearly we’ve come to a point where we can’t regress back into a society that searches for answers manually, and that probably wouldn’t be the answer anyway. However, as a society, we should make more of an effort to foster the areas of our brains to work harder and strive, despite it not being easy or convenient, like a calculator makes math.

Pushing our brains just a small amount further than our comfort zone in day-to-day life will inevitably help us to learn and keep growing. This could be something as simple as periodically solving our own math problems and looking up the correct spellings of words in the dictionary, to actually using books as sources for research instead of Wikipedia.

While the knowledge we receive via the Internet is certainly helpful -- and sometimes vital, we shouldn’t forget that curiosity is one of the driving forces behind our growth and improvement as a people.

Walt Disney said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” While obtaining our answers instantaneously is convenient, we need to occasionally step outside of our digital comfort zone in order to preserve our desire to ask questions and to be curious, which essentially makes us, us.

Kayla Inglima | Elite.

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