Is life too easy these days? Well, obviously not. Not if you consider all of it.
But looking things up? You have all these search engines that will tell you more than you need to know, far too quickly. That’s good, isn’t it? I have just spent a rather short while learning a lot about US army ranks, Jackie Onassis and Antony Armstrong-Jones. And all that goes with it.
When I have time to reflect, I often wonder how I found certain things out, decades ago. I mean, I can remember needing to know something, and eventually doing so, but how did I know where to look?
The automatic response for many years, if you were a Swede, which I was, still am, would be Bra Böckers Lexikon. This encyclopaedia could be found in ‘every’ Swedish home, no doubt often in a Billy, or an Ivar. We ‘all’ belonged to this mail order book club, where every other time (three times a year) you received the latest instalment of the encyclopaedia, and the other three times, you ‘just got books.’ It couldn’t be more frequent, because they were actually making things up, sorry, putting the volumes together, as we subscribed and couldn’t work any faster.
So I remember how pleased I was over a browsing discovery of all the military ranks I could want. I’d had no idea you could look this kind of thing up. Whereas this week, when Purple Hearts made me want to check it out again, I knew where I could find the information within seconds.
After watching another episode of The Crown, we wanted to look up Jackie Onassis, and that too was done in the blink of an eye, and a few more blinks for all the family news, so to speak. Similarly for the Earl of Snowdon from the episode before.
But was it better before? You got the satisfaction of hunting for information. You had to use your little grey cells to work out where to look.
I was a child who would sit down to read encyclopaedias, and atlases, and telephone directories. You can’t quite read the internet in the same way.