Information too much of a good thing?

Nathan Grote, IV Leader Managing Editor

Somebody asked me the other day if I remembered the pledge of allegiance.  Of course, I remembered it, I said, and proudly stood to recite it.
I got the first sentence out, started in on the second, but it didn’t seem right.  I tried it from the top a few more times, but each time was certain that I left something out.  Humbled, I gave up and admitted defeat.
Amused at our own ignorance, we decided to ask the next person that came along.
Just as I had, he scoffed at the question, then stumbled after proudly reciting the first line.
While the questioner and I reminisced about repeating the pledge everyday throughout our formative years, we talked about the teacher who we drove nearly insane, about the girls we had crushes on, about that one kid who pooped his pants in gym class.
While we talked about all these things, the third member of our party was silently poking away at his smartphone.  Within seconds, he had found and read aloud the entire pledge of allegiance.  And that was that.
Had our question not been so readily answered, there’s no telling where the conversation might have gone; but that quick Web search killed it right there.
What does this say about our relationships with technology, information, and each other?
Personally, instead of all the ‘connecting’ that the communications companies tell us these little devices do, I see them driving a wedge between us.
I think we are doing the same amount of connecting, but we are just choosing to do it over an ever-widening chasm.  We are able to watch, in real time, history unfold around the world in Cairo, and we can see and talk to grandma in Potatoville, Idaho, from our living room in the Illinois Valley; and that is an amazing thing.
Yet at the same time, it can take 20 minutes to play a hand of poker because everyone has their cards in one hand and a smart phone in the other.
Sure, the smartphone gave us every iteration of the pledge since its inception along with everything we could want to know about it; yet it deprived us of a heated and entertaining discussion.
Could speedy truths be leaving human debate out in the cold?

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