Turn off, tune out and drop into predigital thinking

Burt's Eye View

My wife looked up from her smartphone. “Remember when we had to seek answers?”

I paused the YouTube video. “Sure. Wait, what?”

“We used to ask God why. Now we ask Google.”

“Why go on faith when you can go online?”

“Exactly. A few taps of the screen and boom, you have ready-made opinions in pixels.”

I moused to the weather tab. The laptop window reported sunny. That explained the light coming through the living room window. “Kids today. They have no idea how to think for themselves.”

Terry swiped at her phone screen. “See, it says here that the World Wide Web became publicly available in August 1991. That’s…” She pecked at her screen. “…26 years ago. There’s a generation for whom instant answers have always existed.”

I shook my head. “So that’s what happened. A young guy training us on new equipment passed out an instructional guide with part of the directions missing. When I asked about it, he looked shocked. ‘I thought everyone would know to Google the rest.'”

Terry groaned. “I spent hours and hours in the college library, books heaped on my study tables, Band-Aids ready for paper cuts, as I sorted and analyzed facts for term papers. Today, all I’d have to do is turn in a cover page and tell the professor, ‘Just Google the rest.'”

“Or the Blue Screen of Death ate my homework.” I checked my tablet for texts. “Can you believe kids are so glued to their devices?”

She sighed. “In our day, an idiot idea went about as far as you could throw a snowball. Now the idiots post their thoughts on social media and the ideas snowball until they’ve collected enough other idiots to create an abominable idiot snowman.”

“Hey, that’s kinda cool,” I said. “Can I tweet that to my followers? Or should I do Instagram? Here, let me snap a phone photo.”

“Not unless you Photoshop a different top on me. I don’t like this color.”

“I’ve got an app that can also swap out those bills on the table for some magazines. What would like? Tech Monthly?”

She thumbed through the envelopes. “These are late.”

“Nah. I paid them online. Oh, we got email that your cybershopping order will be here tomorrow. I hope they send it by drone. I wonder if it’ll look like R2-D2.”

“That was a droid. It was not the drone you were looking for.”

“Oh, yeah. I should have checked Wikipedia.”

Terry rolled her eyes. “That online font of all knowledge written by anyone with no qualifications whatsoever except for access to the Internet?”

“You make that sound like a bad thing. All the answers to everything we need are there, and then some.”

“So why are we so stupid?” Terry slapped her phone onto the couch, slammed my laptop shut and yanked the modem plug from the wall. “We are going for a walk. To the bookstore. Where we will buy actual books. We’ll sit outdoors and discuss the ideas we read. And if I so much as see an electronic device, I’m pitching it into the woods.”

“That’s barbaric,” I cried. “That kind of thing hasn’t been done since…”

“Since August 1991, 26 years ago, when we stopped thinking.”

I suffered only a slight headache when my brain cells woke up.

— Instead of zapping Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook, get out ink pen and notebook paper and write him a letter. In cursive, if you remember how.

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