This post might not have anything to do with raising a kid. It might not have anything to do with my experiences with the K-Man. It may not even be about parenting. I’m not sure. Why? Because right now, it feels like my entire world has been shaken, rattled and thrown into a dumpster. You have those moments when nothing seems right? It’s all wrong? That’s right, you know what I’m writing about. Of course, I’m writing about that feeling you have when (wow, I can barely type the words)…the Internet crashes.
For the bulk of the day, our office has been without an Internet connection. Oh sure, it would start and then stop and then start and then stop, but for the most part…it was stopped. Was I going to have to actually communicate with people by calling them? No. Nothing that crazy. I still had the CrackBerry for the most basic emails. Sending and reading key documents and blog postings were impossible, however. My gawd, the humanity!
Okay, so maybe this will be a bit more about the K-Man than I thought. I just had this flashback to those simpler days with no Internet (AT ALL!). I know it’s probably hard to imagine such a time, but I remember doing research papers with the encyclopedia as my main (and oftentimes only) resource. I had to actually go to the library and peruse the card catalog (does THAT even exist anymore?). I huddled in the darkness of the microfiche room and struggled with those two handles. (Wait. Which way makes it go up and down, and which makes it go left to right?)
When it’s K-Man’s turn to write a paper on some small, wooded mammal or the boll weevil (yes, I wrote papers on each of those), he’ll turn to the Internet. He’ll simply type in the search term he wants and a zillion resources will be handpicked and linked to him in no time. No card catalog. No trip to the library. He’ll cut and paste and paste and cut. And, in no time, he’ll have a nicely crafted paper with lots of properly referenced quotes (wouldn’t want the young lad plagiarizing anything, after all).
I know that he wouldn’t feel the same way (as I’m sure many people don’t), but I feel like he’s going to be missing out. It’s not that I was a huge fan of the card catalog or of spending hours looking through books that I didn’t end up using, but I got a real rush from the process. Sure, it could be frustrating and, at times, absolutely confounding (I just KNEW my paper on the plight of small wooded animals in a forest fire wouldn’t prove too useful to my life after college), but it was such a challenge. And, since I REALLY hated the study-and-memorize version of learning, writing papers was also far more rewarding to me.
No doubt K-Man will still have to write papers (and, I assume, lots of them), but technology has made it easier to do so. The Internet has removed a HUGE step from the process and made the research FAR easier. (Hopefully, this leads to better grades – we’ll see.) In a way, I feel bad for the kid. I feel like there are so many shortcuts to getting things done right now, and I can’t even imagine what will be available when any of this even becomes an issue for him. (He’s not writing too many papers now. He’s writing on walls. But no papers.)
I guess this will become the equivalent of, “When I was your age, I had to walk to school uphill both ways…in the snow!” Or, “When I was your age, there was only black & white TV, three channels and no remote controls.” (Crap – that’s true for me, too. How did I get this old?) Someday, I’ll have to tell K-Man about the days of yesteryear (before Al Gore invented the Internet).
When I do, I’m sure he’ll look at me with some sort of quizzical, confused expression before saying, “Hold on, Dad, I’ve got a call.” And, he’ll push the knuckle on his ring finger to activate the digital communications chip implanted in his arm.