Sunday, November 18, 2012

What's Missing

She asked me, "Did you know that Malta is it's own independent country?"

I did know that.

That simple question though prompted me to think about HOW it was that I knew that. Where that little bit of knowledge came from and why it remains with me to this day.

It is there because  many years ago, on those Friday nights when my grandfather and I would watch Studio Wrestling as I drifted off to sleep, there was a regular wrestler named Baron Mikel Scicluna who, as it turns out, hailed from the "Isle of Malta".

I am sure it was one day when I was 11 or so that I took to leafing through our home encyclopedia and read about this Isle of Malta for the first time.  That led to a visit to our neighborhood library for more reading.  This was right around the time of Malta's claim to independence so there was much to read at the library.

It was planted in my brain and remained a part of my consciousness all these years.

But why it remains up there is, I believe, mostly because of all the circumstances surrounding the actual knowledge I acquired.

Today, when I think of something or hear about something that peaks my curiosity, I look it up instantaneously on the internet and, to be honest, it is usually gone from my memory capabilities within a day or two.  I believe this is because a large part of the circumstances that make things memorable are not there with such instant, high-speed gratification.

As a child, there was the need to research any topic you wanted to learn about and an effort required to do so. Even if it was only to get up and go into a different room and pull out a thick volume of an encyclopedia and leaf through it. Better yet to walk the long blocks to the library and pour over books and magazines. The trip there and all the surrounding experiences etching themselves in as a form of inducing the tactile memory.

I love the world wide web. . . it is how I make a living and I count on it for recipes, information, news etc etc but, I know deep inside that something is missing when I take that route. As someone who experienced life before and after the explosion of the on-line world, I can tell you that the convenience is not always the best thing for our storing and retaining of knowledge. 

Something is missing when you can just sit at the same desk and whip through one subject after another. . . there is no separation. No lead up to the discovery of the knowledge. No sense memory to help write it into our consciousness.

It's not a better way.
It lacks soul, as do so many other internet based discoveries. . .

I recently got a library card in the new county I live in. Just walking around the aisles of books and magazines remains a thrill.  And I am determined to venture there on occasion to learn things the "old fashioned way".

So they'll stick like Malta.
For years to come

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtful post Nicolas. I still remember my mother coming up to me and telling me about this amazing new thing called the 'Internet' "Everyone has a computer and they can all connect to eachother at once!!" I just didn't get it at the time. Even when mobile phones popped up in everyone's handbag, I swore I wouldn't even be one of 'those texting people' - But I do it. We'll say what we've always said for 100s of years, what will they think of next? What will our children's children be living like? But to them, second nature. Go the library card. ;) (and you can see and talk to actual people in the library too)