When I sit in front of my laptop I feel like a character from Star Trek. Within this small device, with its tiny green LED signifying an active internet connection, the entirety of human knowledge is at my fingertips. In the same way that characters from sci-fi TV programmes used to do, with just a few key presses I can bring up more or less any kind of information imaginable.
I can read about Byzantine naval tactics, the history of Wolverhampton Wanderers football team, the current weather in Santiago or Kuala Lumpur. The internet will inform me of the current price of a barrel of North Sea oil, of any projected delays to Air Canada flight 868 from Toronto to London, of the precise distance from Earth to Venus. I can, if I so choose, learn the motto of Aitchison College Lahore, the diameter in millimetres of a Major League baseball, the precise altitude of the city of Ulan Baator, Mongolia. I can do anything. Anything. The whole of human knowledge, the sum total of thousands and thousands of years of studying, learning, pondering, living, playing, exploring, measuring, developing, advancing – it’s all here. All of it. A fact which, in times past, would have taken the chief scientists of the day months of study, can be mine within a few seconds. Even thirty years ago someone would have had to find a book and look it up, but even that minor inconvenience is spared me thanks to the internet, and Wikipedia. The kind of technology that sci-fi writers would have dreamed of is here and in our hands, even, thanks to smartphones, in our pockets.
So why, when I sit in front of my laptop, invariably ignore this vast accumulated wealth of knowledge and wisdom and revert to looking at Facebook and watching funny videos of babies dancing?
I’m lazy, is the honest answer. For shame, for shame…