Technology is neutral. Websites and laptops are simply canvasses upon which we can project or depict whatever we’d like. Facebook isn’t evil, nor is text messaging some overpowering detriment to humanity. The world is making technological and informational progress. But these innocuous advancements are serving off-kilter purposes. They’re being used as means of ignoring studies – or at least turning learning into Googling.
But you know how your grandpa always seems to know everything? You know how he knows what happened yesterday – and also what happened on yesterday’s date in 1943? You know how he knows about apples, and wars, and people, and money, and cats? Well, he didn’t just wake up one day and know all of that. He didn’t spend his entire childhood listening to the click-clack of his MacBook keyboard or the bee-bop of his BlackBerry. He didn’t worry himself with Facebook notifications. He didn’t get home from school and lunge for his laptop so that he could numb his mind while “learning” the ins and outs of a helicopter game on addictinggames.com. He flipped through the pages of books and read what was written inside of them.
Your know how your English teacher seems to know exactly what Scout Finch means – on every line of every page? And why Shakespeare decided to use a metaphor – “out, out, brief candle!” – instead of simply providing a penetrating glimpse into the obvious (disclaimer: that’s my English teacher’s line. He knows those fancy words because he reads)? Your English teacher knows all that because when she was your age, SparkNotes.com wasn’t even a faint conception. So she read everything. Every last word.
You know that kid in your class who doesn’t seem to pepper his sentences with “like” like the rest of your class does? Or that uncle who always seems to bring up “what’s happening on the Hill” at family get-togethers? Or that clerk at the grocery store who sneaks a peak at what you’re listening to on your iPod and gives you an in-depth analysis of the cultural and ethnic heritage of your favorite band’s lead guitarist?
These people aren’t geniuses. They weren’t all born with God-given talent or intrinsic brilliance. Most of them probably didn’t go to Harvard or Yale or Columbia. But I can promise you one thing: when they got home from school, they sure as hell didn’t log onto Facebook. They picked up a book, gave their index fingers a good lick, flipped a page open, and read. And so should I. And so should we.