According to Wikipedia – and, yes, I realise just how limited that authority is – the Information Age is a term used to refer to the present era which has come into use due to “the global economy’s shift in focus away from the production of physical goods […] and towards the manipulation of information.”
I would suggest, though, that although we live in the Information Age, the current generation don’t process the information they have access to, they simply pass it on.
I found a link to a video in my inbox the other day from a writer friend, together with an exasperated exclamation that someone was “using his idea”. He knows as well as I do that there’s no copyright in ideas, but the exasperation was real enough.
Then, when the subject cropped up yesterday, it turned out that he hadn’t actually watched the video. He’d only read the title alongside it. I, on the other hand, had taken the time to view – almost three full minutes! – believing that it had been passed on for a specific reason.
Another friend tells me a friend of hers suggested she try to get involved in some research into the effects of chocolate. The headline link he sent her was along the lines of “volunteers needed to eat chocolate.” The fact they were looking for post-menopausal women suffering with late-on-set diabetes, or some other such specific profile which ruled out my friend had been completely over-looked by her friend.
Once again, he’d seen the headline and reached immediately to Copy, Paste, Send.
Although both these culprits are male, I’m not suggesting it’s a gender thing. Access to information is far too easy, and because it’s easily accessible we don’t value it and we don’t discriminate between what’s genuinely relevant and reliable and what isn’t.
Back when I was a kid, if you wanted the words of a pop song, there were a couple of alternatives. You could listen along as often as it took and try and write them all down. Or, if you were lucky, you got hold of the LP cover where the lyrics might appear. And then you copied them down. I challenge anyone to copy out a whole song and not do some mental processing at the same time.
Later on, if there was something in the paper I wanted to tell my sister about, I would ring her up and read it to her over the phone. Maybe I’d send her the clipping, but even then, I’d make sure I only sent the part of the page that was relevant, not simply Copy, Paste, and send a URL.
Nowadays you can pass on information you have never even looked at yourself. We are ‘forward thinking’ in as much as we pass the information on to others and they in turn pass it straight on to someone else.
There it goes: link after link after link. And here we are, the Copy, Paste, Send generation living in a sausage world.