I suppose it’s a good thing to have all the accumulated knowledge of the generations at your fingertips at any given moment. However, I’m not so sure that it isn’t a detriment to our cognitive abilities in that we never have to ponder anything for longer than it takes to Google the subject with our fingers or thumbs and immediately get the results.
The younger folks are much better at getting the information than us old guys, but I find their interruptions annoying.
Case in point, I was trying to remember all of “The Magnificent Seven” actors and their screen names, and the axons and neurons were firing pretty well. I had Yul Brynner as Chris and Steve McQueen as Vin, Horst Buchholz was Chico and Charles Bronson was Bernardo O’Reilly.
The mistake I made was voicing my consternation to one of my grandkids, who immediately whipped out his cellphone and, in the space of a minute, told me. I was missing Britt, Harry and Lee and the actors who played them.
Then the smart-nosed little punk got a smug, self-satisfied, egotistical grin on his face and stood there waiting for me to thank him. He ruined my eureka moment.
It was as if he had thought of the information I needed on his own. I admonished him severely, and as he skulked away I heard him muttering something about old guys under his breath.
I like Google and I’ve used it on many occasions. It is truly amazing that you can find out virtually anything in the span of seconds. However, it really is destroying our ability to ponder or dwell at length on some problem. To scratch our heads and put it out of our minds until we can come back to it with some fresh thinking. To awaken in the middle of the night with an “aha, I got it.”
We have gotten so obsessed with finding out the answers right away that even our newspaper crossword puzzles can be visited online for clues – or the outright answers served up to us on a platter. I do confess that if the clue is too obscure, like who played Anna in “The King and I” (even though I do know that answer), I may have snuck out the iPad and Googled the answer, entered the letters in the proper slot and felt like a fraudulent and unworthy cheat when the puzzle was completed.
Luckily, though, there are some things that are not available on the Internet. I spent 30 great years flying fighter jets with the Air Force and most all of the pilots had call signs. Some of these were very politically incorrect and insensitive, but they were usually fairly descriptive and unique to that individual.
Some of us old pilots have an annual canoe trip or fishing vacation in the boundary waters and we finish the evening around a roaring campfire consuming brown whisky and smoking big cigars. Inevitably we will be reminiscing and someone will remark, “Hey, what was Plastic Man’s real name?” Dead silence. Was it Mark? No, that’s not right.
Then it happens. We all pick our brains and try as hard as we might to recollect what his real name was. No one grabs an iPhone; no one connects to the Internet. We all use whatever little intellect we have left and think as hard as we are able until finally someone screams, “Dick Holzer.” We offer a congratulatory toast and savor the eureka moment.
Doug Routt, who lives in Amherst, is glad there are still some things that aren’t available on the Internet.