Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We're BACK

So, I had my 22nd birthday on Monday. I had an incredible time, thanks to my many amazing friends, wonderful family, peerless roommates and breathtaking girlfriend.

What does this mean for this blog? Aside, of course, from the fact that it apparently receives new posts now? Well, it means that I am an old man who needs to observe the habits of other old men. With that in mind, here's a trend that I find disturbing.

I've been hearing a lot of people say "My knowledge/skill set is important and valid, and yours is trivial." This is a pheonomenon you could call a "skills generation gap". I've seen countless examples, here are a few:

1) "X percent of Americans cannot locate Iraq on a map"
2) "Kids can't spell today because they rely on SpellCheck"
3) "People don't write letters or make phone calls, its all texts and im"

And so on and so forth. The first example is probably the most prominent, and is the one that got me thinking.

Does it matter that some disgustingly high percentage of American schoolchildren can't find Iraq on a map? Or that they don't know the capital of Missouri, or the year the Tet Offensive took place, or the 26th President of the United States?

The common defense of the younger generation is "I don't need to know that, because I can just Google it." This defense is met with eye-rolling and exasperated sighs from the Old Guard. And yet, it is completely accurate.

Between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey; 1968; and Teddy Roosevelt.

That took me about 20 seconds. Literally.

What is the value of equipping a person with information that he or she can access instantaneously? If I spent years packing my head with facts, figures, and dates just to save myself those 20 seconds, would that be time well spent?

Now I understand what the critics are getting at. The new generation needs to be informed. We need, more than ever, to understand the dynamics of government and international relations. We need to hold our elected officials to a higher standard than the previous generation did. We need to involve ourselves.

What we DON'T need is an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia. We live in a new era of information availability, an era in which the ability to acquire information efficiently is far more valuable than the ability to memorize facts.

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