First, it depends on where you're standing. If you're standing in the downtown of a huge city (let's say Chicago, because that's where I live) you're likely to see men and women in business suits, damn near knocking people over in their haste to gulp down a cup of Starbucks coffee while talking on a Bluetooth headset and surfing the Internet on their business PDAs. Look in a car and don't be surprised if you see someone with a laptop computer resting in the passenger seat like a member of the family (I've seen it). Even at places like the park, people are texting and Twittering and checking their Facebook pages and all sorts of other things.
There are people (mainly those who have trouble catching on to the technology fad) who believe that our nation is getting dumber with the availability of the Internet and all of its resources. They think we should know when the Gettysburg Address was delivered (1863)
or who the first open heart surgeon was (Dr. Daniel Hale Williams) or what date is "a date that will live in infamy" (December 7, 1941, said by President Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding Pearl Harbor).
And by the way, had I not Googled each one of those questions and answers as I write this very entry, I would not have known any of this.
But you were impressed for a minute, weren't you?
Since when does a test of my intelligence mean that I have to remember significant dates or names off the top of my head? Why is my generation "dumber" than any other generation simply because it takes us much less time to retrieve much more information than before? What's more, people insinuate that we are weaker because we have technology. Guess what: somebody has to program that technology.
Take the creation of a blog. "Oh, you kids have it so easy, you can just type words on a screen and people can read it. Back in my day we had to have our work published to get discovered". While a blog isn't exactly rocket science, it's not as easy as making a peanut butter jelly sandwich. The skill set required to create a (successful) blog includes the ability to turn on a computer, to log onto the Internet, find the perfect blog website, customize your blog to look exactly how you want it to, and some basic writing skills. It may not sound like a lot but it requires some organization and dedication. Imagine: many of the tech naysayers can't even make it past step one.
The statistics are the worst part. They say something like 50-something percent of teenagers don't know who Dick Cheney is. 60 percent of teenagers where? Because every single teenager I know at least recognizes the name and knows by now that Dick Cheney isn't a person you want to go hunting with. In all of these articles, I haven't seen any numbers showing the number of adults who can't do simple computer functions. I'll bet the number is astonishing.
Try this out. Go to a library one day (I know, I know, yes those things DO still exist, and they come with Wi-Fi!) and try looking for a book through a card catalogue (if they have those things anymore). If your library doesn't have a card catalogue, go to the section with encyclopedias (yes, those still exist as well) and search for an entry. It could be on anything. What does it take to find that entry?
You need the patience to keep looking for what you seek even if it isn't automatically available. You need to know how to look through an encyclopedia (an index) in the first place or else you won't get anywhere. The information you find is something somebody else has written and has made available to you for free.
Now look for the same entry online. You still need patience, because if your searches end up like my searches you find often that what you were originally looking for wasn't exactly what you had in mind. You need to know where to look; obviously searching for an article on bats on Facebook won't do you much good. And whatever you find is something somebody else has written in hopes of either sharing knowledge or because they got paid to do it.
See the similarity?
To the skeptics of those of us who are immersed in the technological world, understand this: technology is everywhere, from the computer you're reading this blog on to the television you're watching to the car you drive to the cell phone you connect to everybody with. And it's not going anywhere but forward from this point on. You'd do well to stop running from the revolution and start learning from it.
And by the way: rather than being ashamed of the fact that I didn't know the three facts I mentioned earlier offhand, I'd much rather be proud that I had the creativity and researching skills necessary to find my answers in 3.7 seconds, which is much quicker than I could have ever remembered off the top of my head.