The Quarter Life Crisis: Pt 3
We’re information spoiled. We’re content spoiled. We’re accustomed to getting everything we want immediately, and for free. And it’s great. It’s perhaps the most important step in humanity’s ‘secondary intelligence’ evolution, where knowledge is defined by one’s ability to find an answer, not to intrinsically know an answer.
It’s also probably the defining, foundational characteristic of the Millennial generation. As the first kids who grew up with the internet, we are particularly adept at finding solutions and having answers. Who played Shortstop for the 1953 Milwaukee Braves? Johnny Logan. Never heard of him? Neither had I, until I looked it up just now.
Where is there a Build-A-Bear in Omaha, NE? There’s one at the Oak View Mall on South 144.
This stuff doesn’t matter that much, except that it does, a ton, forever and always. It matters that I can find who Johnny Logan is in 2.8 seconds because sometimes I need to reference obscure baseball players in columns I write about being a Millennial. It matters because Johnny Logan isn’t really Johnny Logan. He is every baseball player that’s ever had a single at-bat or thrown a pitch in the Major Leagues. He’s every Dean of Students at Stanford, or every Home-Pickler to ever win the Akron, OH, pickle-making contest. That’s a real thing. I just looked it up. Johnny Logan, simply by virtue of being a guy at a time who did a thing, has now unwittingly become a metaphor in my dumb column. And he was around before the internet. Actually, I just looked it up, and he passed away about a month ago. Rest in Peace, you Unwitting Metaphor of the Milwaukee Braves.
Since we have evolved with the internet, we are way more a part of it than Johnny Logan is. You can Google my name and find out all sorts of pointless crap about me. Scary, because my identity is being broadcast to everybody all the time, but also cool, because I’m part of this thing. I’m actually inside of it. This constantly expanding, eternally accessible pool of knowledge from the frustratingly mundane—Rebecca ate quite the scone this morning!—to the even more frustratingly fascinating — blank patches of outer space contain uncountable galaxies, and every Luther episode in between.
But the internet is not just a reference book of everything. It is also a very powerful megaphone. It’s the friend at a party who introduces you to the guy who knows a lodge in Big Bear, or the a lady with a big idea who needs help making it happen; and most importantly, it’s a giant override button to misinformation. Let me say that again. It’s an override to misinformation. That doesn’t mean there’s not misinformation on the internet. There is tons of it, more than anywhere else, but it’s a way to find good information as well. Collect it out of the tangle of conspiracy theories and angry Youtube comments, and if your government-run newspaper is telling you one thing, you can see what 20 other newspapers say about the same thing. You can see pictures posted by people involved in the thing. You can find out where the thing is and go there. This is huge. Johnny Logan is not just a Shortstop from the 50’s anymore. Now, he’s a photo of a Mogadishu tent village being forcibly evicted.
Today, in 2014, we have the broadest definition of information ever. It’s all of these things. It’s also Hulu Plus, Pinterest, Craigslist, Pirate Bay, Steam, Youporn, Reddit and Pickleguys.com (I’m thinking about pickles a lot while writing this—maybe I’m pregnant? Nope, just looked it up, men can’t get pregnant. Except for this guy, and this guy.)
A broad definition of knowledge is amazing because we have access to all of it. Finding out how to complete the Carbine Rifles mission in GTA V is knowledge acquisition, because it’s the same skill you need to research a college essay or figure out what’s wrong with your car. It’s using the Johnny Logan Lobe. This is all important because ingenuity and progress start with knowledge. When knowledge is difficult to attain, it’s all that much harder to innovate, and learning to find a solution is a big deal. It’s the reason that your grandparents call you when they can’t figure out Picasa, a program you’ve never used and never will, but you can still answer their questions with a quick Google.
Your grandparents know what Google is, but they may not actually understand how it answers questions. So you’re the guru, just because you know how to find information. The easy thing that you’ve been doing since you were 7. That’s fun! The internet is only a good thing. I stand by that firmly. Despite all the evil horrible awful mean stupid time-wasty illegal demeaning trashy things that happen there, it’s all good, because it’s all knowledge. It’s all Johnny Logan, and Millennials are the masters of it.
The problem with the internet is that globalizing everything makes it a lot harder to be a person in actual space and time. When you apply for a job now, there are thousands of other people applying. When you ask a girl on a date on OKCupid, you’re one of 60 gross strangers to message her that day. This is the reality Millennials deal with, and it’s the reason globalization is being countered with localization. You know, that ‘hipster’ thing where local farms are favored over factory farms and home-brewing and home-pickling are all the rage? That’s because with all our immense knowledge, we’re still humans who need to exist in the real world and talk to each other on occasion.
And that’s all kind of because of the internet too! How do you think people find those farms? Or learn how to home-brew? Hell, how do you think local, green produce even became a thing people cared about? In fact, you’re reading this right now because I put my Kickstarter project on Reddit and Trueblue’s Managing Editor Sebastian found it, wrote about it, and we started emailing back and forth. I asked if he needed more writers, he said yes, and here we are.
Thanks, Johnny Logan.