A Canadian librarian recently shared a blog article with me called In Praise of Libraries and Librarians. Now I am not only fond of libraries and librarians, I am an avid supporter of them. I have served terms on Friends of the Library boards in three different cities. I know how much libraries and librarians offer to their communities. However there was something in this article that I did not expect to see, and it really made me think.
At the beginning of the article, the blogger wrote: "There was a report in a newspaper a while ago about a mother whose six-year-old had asked her whether he should put a slice of bread in the toaster 'landscape or portrait?' I mentioned this to my ten-year-old son and he said: 'He should have Googled it.'"
Now I remember when I was a child and we referred to turning things "the long way" or "the short way." I also remember teaching elementary school and instructing children to fold their papers "hamburger" or "hot dog." Everything is relative and changes over time.
Therefore, it doesn't surprise me that a child who has grown up using computers and printers all his life would use the terms "landscape" and "portrait" in questioning how his bread should be oriented in the toaster. What does surprise me, however, is that another child of his generation would expect him to "Google" his question rather than ask his mother.
Independence is an important quality to instill in our children. I have to wonder, however, where the boundary lies between being independent and withdrawing from others.
Are the lines being blurred? Are we losing our connection to flesh and blood friends while increasing our time in virtual communities? Recent holiday statistics confirm that we already prefer virtual shopping to visiting brick and mortar stores.
Will it become faster and easier to deal with computers than people in all aspects of our lives? Should speed and ease be our only standards for judging interactions and experiences?
These are tough questions, and I don't have any simple answers. I do know, however, that I want to give them plenty of thought.