Nothing Wrong With Basic

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It was Saturday afternoon and I decided to call my grandma. Ok, I haven’t talked her in a while so I suppose now would be a good time to say hi. I picked up my iPhone and as I started to dial the numbers, I realized I didn’t know the number off the top of my head. So, I did what I always do when I want to talk to someone, looked for the name in my contacts list and selected the number so the iPhone will call it. I knew my grandmother’s old number from memory because she got the number in 1988 before cell phones. Recently she changed the number and all I needed to do was to store the number in my phone and go on my merry way. I shouldn’t feel ashamed because our cell phones are now our little black book with all the numbers but there was a time when we had to make an effort to learn someone phone number. If I was to lose my phone, all the numbers I have would be lost and since I don’t have them in my head, I guess I won’t be talking to anyone any time soon.

Once upon a time ago, man produced during a time when we had basic principles or fundamentals. Everyday things were basic. We had to read books, we had to pay our bills by mail, we had to balance a checkbook, we had to write our thoughts down on paper before we typed them on paper, we had to get up and change the channel on the television, we had to listen to our elders and somehow we have forgotten these basic steps in our wish to advance our society. Since the end of the Second World War, the world with the United States in the lead made huge strides to take man to heights never imagined. We raced with other nations of the world to create a society similar to what Gene Roddenberry thought of when he developed Star Trek for television: a society that dreamed of exploring the heavens and with the technology, it was possible. We have made our lives comfortable but we did so at a price. The price was losing our fundamentals.

Anyone can remember when your parents made you memorize your home phone number, your address, their work numbers, phone numbers of relatives so that if something was to happen to you, you could “reach out and touch someone.” There were no devices that we could use to store information except our brains. We had to learn it and keep in stored in our memories. You could say it was an early lesson on recall. If someone wanted to look up a word they found a dictionary but now you can just “google” it. For the record, I use Google but before there was a Google, there was the dictionary. I had to think of the word and search it out page by page. With Google, one just only needs to type the word in the text bar and {poof} it’s there in many results. In school, when taking a math course, students were given just a pencil and a piece of paper. Calculators were not allowed because teachers wanted students to use their minds to probe for the answer. What started as aids to better our advancement as humans became more of a dependency. We are so dependent on our aids that we would be lost without them.

Now one might say, hey what’s wrong with using technology to aid us? What’s wrong with googling a word? Why should I need to use a dictionary or an encyclopedia when I have a computer connected to the Internet? Isn’t that’s why we advanced ourselves, so we can have it better than our parents. The answer would be yes but to appreciate the future, we have to respect the past. We got the cool stuff because we did basis things to create the cool stuff. As of now, your cell can do almost everything for you. It can think for you, (reminders) it can make calls for you (contact list), it give you the answer to math problems, (calculator) it can give the bus schedule, movie times (internet) and just for laughs it can allow you to tweet. (Twitter) Now imagine if you lost your phone and you couldn’t get another one right away, how would you manage to keep your sanity? Without any basics to fall back on, you are as lost as a puppy looking for its momma.

Having fundamentals keep us grounded and doing basic things will produce results, maybe not as fast but they will produce. In other words, you don’t need a bug zapper to kill a fly, you need only a fly swatter. The effort to advance our society made us so dependent on the advancements that we gotten lax on the simplest task such as memorizing a phone number. The children that are growing up in this advance society are missing out on the fundamental aspects that our parents had to teach us to become innovators. The innovators who designed the tools that advanced our society. This is not a call to discard our achievements, but it is a call to appreciate the basics and use our tools as a part, not the whole. When I was a little one, I was fascinated with looking up words in a dictionary. Ok, call me nerdy but I wanted to know the meaning of things. I would scanned the dictionary looking for random words and it helped my vocabulary and it was basic. If I was born during this era, the dictionary would be just another big thick book and the Internet would be my chief source of everything. I’m grateful for tools such as Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com but I admit that I have been too depended on them to aid me. My dictionary has become that big thick book collecting dust and I know it’s time to blow the dust off the cover. It’s time to embrace the simple things that made me what I am but at the same time use the tools that made me better. To use an 80’s cliché, “and knowing is half the battle, G.I.Joe.”

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~ by R8RBOB on February 1, 2010.

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