OPINION: One-click search engines create false experts

Alexandra Lisa | Staff Writer

We see the world through smartphone screens. We have endless cyber libraries in every subject, every country, every time period, gorilla-glued to our eye sockets. Have a question? Look it up.

There is nothing wrong with a thirst for information. In fact, I find it commendable that people have a natural drive to learn. Whether it is the race of insanities that are today’s politics or the latest iconization of a formerly tragic loss of endangered wildlife, people become interested enough to look into it for themselves.

For all of the intelligence this robotic era has inspired, however, it has also promoted neglect of social relationships, people’s oblivious nature, and a false sense of all-knowing arrogance. Records of car accidents while phoning and driving have only increased as electronic usage grows. Aimee Eckert nearly died in a car accident in Mason just five years ago when a driver, speeding at 75 mph in a 35 mph zone, hit her from the side without warning, killing her unborn child. The driver was on facebook while driving, and lost control of the vehicle. Social media itself has potential to harm others. Despite its intent to connect and build relationships, it has driven people to suicide through the loneliness and embarrassment to which users are subjected. Each time I go out to eat there is a family sitting in silence, noses buried in snappy phone cases.

Computers are everywhere, now that they are in your pocket. With such a flash-flood of devices soaking the country, aspects are bound to get out of hand. Opinions mistaken as facts, personal viewpoints as evidence, and reading an article is enough to convince people they are masters of the topic they dove into minutes ago.

How many claim to understand where terrorism “comes from” without looking beyond ISIS into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Africa, the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines, or the separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA)? 94 percent of terrorist attacks are committed by non-Muslims. It took me five minutes to confirm that statistic on three sources, yet I doubt anyone spends time finding this information. Despite the screens illuminating our faces 24/7, our research only goes trend-deep. People are uninterested with authentic truth, conversation is all that matters; if it is not discussed, it is not researched, making the public unintentionally ignorant.

I recently overheard a conversation between my peers. I have heard it many times, but for some reason this occasion made me want to slap my likely-unwanted two cents on the desk.

“Why do we have history classes? They’re all dead anyway, and Google is right here,” she said as she waved her phone. I know this is a complaint high schoolers make across the globe. The statement does not concern me. The fact that this argument is being taken seriously does.

To suggest that Google can replace lesson plans, can replace teaching, is insane. I will not preach about history repeating itself, but a society will crumble if its members refuse to look at the world around them. History is a measure of how the world has evolved into what it is right now. Just as a frog does not pretend it was never a tadpole, we cannot pretend that the ground beneath our feet did not evolve from another time. We have to look at what our world was before we can appreciate what our world is. That appreciation is not in your computer; it is in hands-on experience.

There may be seas of knowledge at the touch of a square of glass, but we have our world surrounding us. Don’t look it up. Look up.