August 1, 1981 is a date that shaped an entire generation, whether or not we know it. On that day MTV launched with the music video Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles. MTV became one of the most powerful entertainment forces throughout the 80s and 90s. They launched and elevated careers. They helped popularize reality TV. They were a force despite the fact that they didn’t really, actually kill off radio hits with their music videos.
For the current generation it seems an apt parallel might be “Google killed the curious mind.” Google is the evil empire making us all dumber, ruining education, and providing easy answers to hard questions. Instead of thinking we type, and we’re all worse for it. Smart phones for dumb people, right?
Certainly we live in a day with more information available more easily than at any time in history. Cities used to be known for their libraries. Universities were known for their collections of written works. Now we carry gigabytes of memory and almost unimaginable computing power in our pockets. Several of the quotes you’ve read throughout this book were found through a simple Google search, citations and all. We can connect to this magical electronic web of information from just about anywhere except my grandma’s house in rural Georgia. It is remarkable the information we have; it’s truly the information age.
Humans always gravitate toward the easiest option. We do what’s easiest, so naturally we’re going to use Google instead of memorizing stuff. Does that make this generation, with knowledge in their pockets instead of their backpacks and lockers, dumber? Probably a little bit when it comes to memorizing information. But absolutely not when it comes to having answers. We have more ability now to solve problems, discover truth, and make connections than ever before. Time will tell how our minds are affected by this new way of learning (or not learning, as the case may be), but it is unfair to accuse people of being dumber because of the internet.
This access can fool us into thinking we are smarter than we are, though. It allows us to think less and search more. We are lazy, so why think when we could ask Siri to look something up for us? A nasty bi-product of this can be that we lose curiosity. Why ask and notice when all we need to know is at our fingertips?
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
Except that Google should be a super power for the curious person! Rather than deadening our minds it should open up a world of opportunities. We have answer to questions readily at hand which means we can ask new and better questions and learn even more. No longer is “I don’t know” an acceptable answer in most cases. The internet is a universe in itself with so much to observe and engage.
Having information and being curious should feed one another, grow one another. Information is the fuel of curiosity. Curiosity is active and intentional. It uses available tools to their fullest extent and finds new ways to use them. It doesn’t let answers sit out there unused and undiscovered.
Curiosity sees the world of internet interaction as one worth understanding and engaging just like other aspects of culture and society. Curiosity sees that the internet is not just a hub of information, it is a hub of human connections and it plunges in headlong to better grasp them and make the most of them. Remember, curiosity seeks to love our neighbor as ourselves and be shaped by the fruits of the Spirit.
The thing about curiosity is that it sees endless opportunity for discovery, for learning, for relationship. It seeks truth in all places. Where others declare doom it looks for light and opportunity. It does not settle for the easy or lazy. It takes action with heart and mind with whatever means, whatever methods, and whatever propensities the curious one has at his or her disposal.