Friday, November 26, 2010

42..... or Whatever is on Youtube.

The answer is, of course, not 42...but the question is the same. The Earth is simply a large depository for information, biological, technological, cultural. Data locked in cellular sequences, in processes of water, air, soil. Information streaming down wires and fiber optic cables racing underseas and through the air to orbiting satellites. We are bombarded with this information on a daily basis, and it is wondrous how we process it all, consciously or subconsciously. And we learn. It's what the human mind does. Learn. Connecting synapses and brain chemicals to formulate ideas, theories. It's how we move forward.

The sad part is, however, that as individuals making those connections in our minds, we will, at some point, cease to exist. It is our responsibility, therefore, to pass on those connections to others while we still have time to do so. We all become teachers, at that point, whether it be actively educating youth, or simply living out our lives in the view of others who will learn as they observe.

Who is writing this all down? Who has a journal for which the data of mankind can be transmitted to future generations? We have been exceedingly fortunate that past scholars have done so, or else we might still be in the dark ages. And what without the Rosetta Stone, all the ancient hieroglyphics of Egypt would still just be pictures, instead of instructions on how to build the StarGate (no? oh...). And when the last elders of native tribes of the Pacific Ocean pass away, and their languages fade away into time, who will know them (try looking up the meanings behind Deep Forrest songs)?

On a more personal level, we sorted out family photos a while ago, and faces of strangers looked out at us through the pictures. We did not know them. We don't know about their lives, what they did in their spare time, about their joys and sorrows. We never asked them, and so the faces will remain strangers forever. We lose so much when the elders of our community pass on. The old ways of doing things, before all this technology burst onto the scene, they might remain lost forever. My grandmother talked about using White Gasoline to help soothe the itching from Poison Ivy (or Sumac, as my brother had). I had no idea what that was, so I had to look it up on the Internet. And sure enough, that was suggested, although too much of the stuff is just as bad as the Poison.

Which brings me to the Internet. We have at our disposal a depository where we can record and preserve all of mankind's knowledge, at least until someone fires an electromagnetic pulse and destroys the Internet and all electronic data on the planet, rendering e-readers and ATMs and everything useless (which is why I shall keep my bookshelves of stuff, even if I get an e-reader in the future. And books won't break and cost $150 to replace if you drop them and don't have a warranty.). But I digress. A depository for all of mankind's knowledge. And how essential it is now, in this time.

An example. Last week my mother pointed out to me (for the umpteenth time) that the light switch on the kitchen wall was loose, and the light wouldn't always come on, and why don't you replace the switch? So I went to Ace Hardware and purchased a switch and came home, took off the cover, and looked at the wires in wonderment. I didn't know how to do even the most simple electronic repair in my house. Why? Because I didn't have anyone to teach me these things. We live in a society today where far too many fathers are absent, for whatever reasons, and most children are growing up not knowing how to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Computers, why, they can repair those with the greatest of ease. But if the compressor gets clogged in the Air Conditioner downstairs, how are they to know to get Chlorine tablets to clean out the mold inside the pipes? How will they know how to tie a tie? There are books in the general reference section of Borders that list such things. Things that would have been transmitted orally in past times between parent and child, now has to be found out through bookstores and websites.

And thank goodness for it. Not knowing what to do, I went online and found many websites showing directions on how to replace a light switch. More importantly, and this is what I really want to talk about, how vitally important Youtube is to today's youth. I easily found a video that showed the difference between the switch I had and the one I needed (I need one with a three-way switch), and exactly how to replace it. I now have a perfectly working kitchen light. Youtube is essential as a replacement for the wisdom of our fathers and mothers when they are not around to teach us the basics in life. Without it, I wouldn't know how to make the bread recipe Andrew gave to me.

So amongst the cute kitty videos and the music tracks and the countless shots of teenagers falling off of walls for a laugh, there are actual uses for Youtube. It is how we communicate with the future, with the people that may never know what we have learned. Let us maintain this depository we call the Internet, somehow, so that, centuries from now, people that find our civilization in the ruins of this planet, will see how we actually live, how we make bread, how we turn on a light.

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