Building on the 10,000 hours it takes to master a skill, an article I read this morning had me thinking about the other end of the spectrum. According to Metro’s “Just Google it: Students” article, students use Google more than twice as much as any other research method, which leads to the fear that “poor research skills could hinder their future careers.” (Ironic, as in the same article they used “pour” instead of “pore”—but hey, who’s checking?) Probably true — I come from a unique time in history where my journey through high school was accompanied by a transformation of my research methods from using encyclopedias to encyclopedias on CD-ROM, to search engines, and now the ever-ubiquitous Google rules all but can be tamed if you know how to search.
But I needed to start with the fundamentals first before I could be able to know how to look for things on Google. So I guess that leads to a bigger question —
One of the major things that separate us today from the generations that precede us is the amount of work it took to get things done. If you had to write a paper, you’d be damn sure to get it absolutely right the first time, since you were often writing with quill and ink. You’d make your clothes last longer since you often couldn’t just go to the store and buy it—you’d need someone to make things for you, which takes time. And since cities could be days or weeks apart, you definitely wouldn’t complain about an hour-long commute! With mortality arriving at a younger age, you did what you had to with skill and determination with as much daylight as was allotted to you. It was a very different world, and they’d probably look very woefully upon how soft we’ve become. How little work we care to put in to achieve our goals, almost as if we’re scared of effort. And it’s for that very reason that we’re dooming ourselves.
It’s been a while since the focus has been on making things that last. Instead, we focus on making them cheaper. Easier to attain. Better than the next person’s. Individual through conformity. Whichever way you look at it, our priorities have definitely changed.
We want to get rich quicker. Lose weight faster. Do chores in half the time. It’s all about the quick wins with as little effort as possible.
But what does this teach us for the future? What does it teach everyone to come after us?
You start with bad lessons, bad habits and bad ideas, and they develop misguided kids into worse adults, never knowing the way to do anything properly and teaching the same piecemeal lessons to whoever they have to pass the knowledge to next. And what does that leave us with? Lost knowledge. Lost skills. Lost culture. Maybe even a lost population?
So do yourself a favour, and learn how to do things the right way the first time—it won’t only be doing you the favour; I’m sure you’ll get it back to you one way or another. The long way’s a pain in the butt more often than not, but the scenic route’s often worth the drive.