So I was sitting in an a restaurant that happened to serve adult beverages with one of my friends over the holidays, when suddenly a piece of sports trivia suddenly came up during the course of our conversation (Note: Outside of dirty jokes and telling lies about our high school days, sports trivia accounts for most all of our conversations when sitting in establishments that happen to serve adult beverages).
He felt the answer to the piece of obscure sports trivia was one thing, while I thought the answer as a different thing entirely. So, we did what we always do when we find ourselves in a rare situation in which our busy individual lives actually allow for us to spend quality time together — we pulled out our smart phones and completely ignored one another for the next 10 minutes as we frantically searched for the answer to our question.
As it would turn out, I was right, which I suppose doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. (I am, of course, lying. Me being right and him being wrong always matters in the grand scheme of things, especially when it comes to dirty jokes and obscure sports trivia).
A few seconds after my friend conceded that I was, once again, right, however, he asked, “How do you think people in bars solved disputes before smart phones?”
To which I replied, “I don’t know. Probably fist fights.”
Once again, I was kidding. I would never get in a fist fight with my best friend Randy over something like sports trivia, mostly because if I ever got in a fist fight with my best friend Randy over much of anything, there wouldn’t be much left of my best friend Randy.
It did get me to thinking, however, how much having an essentially endless amount of information in our pockets has changed out lives. Sure, for the most part it has changed our lives for the better — and not just in the matter of sports bar trivia, mind you — but it’s also stripped us of a certain amount of our innocence, ingenuity and, dare I say, sense of wonder.
Let’s take the sports trivia incident, for example. In the days before smart phones, my friend and I probably would have spent the next two hours we were in the adult beverage establishment arguing who was right and who was wrong. It would have been a spirited debate that would have no doubt led to a number of side conversations about various other aspects of the sport about which we just happened to be talking.
At the end of the night, we probably still wouldn’t have had a definitive answer to our question as we went our separate ways. Then, a week later, after I had gone to the library and thoroughly researched the answer (and yes, I would absolutely have gone to such lengths to prove I was right), I would have had that much more satisfaction in providing the evidence that proved my intellectual superiority.
Sometimes, you see, the journey is more important than the final destination.
Which reminds me, I also have a GPS device on my phone, which pretty much means I can navigate my way anywhere I chose with limited difficulty. And while that’s awful convenient — and makes me way more on time than I ever used to be — there was something romantic about asking one of my fellow sports writers how to get a high school I had never been to before and having him or her say something like, “Well, once you get off the interstate, go down to the third stop light — the one just past the Captain D’s Seafood place — and take a right. The high school will be on your left. If you pass a pink two-story house with an El Camino up on blocks in the front yard, you’ve gone too far.”
Of course, those are merely two of the millions of ways in which the Internet — and, more specifically, hand-held devices — have changed our lives. And while I’m certainly not against advancements in technology — I’d much rather drive somewhere than take a covered wagon, for instance — sometimes I wonder if we haven’t lost a little something in our race to get all the information we can in the fastest way possible.
But I suppose maybe that will be a debate for the next time Randy and I head out for a root beer or two.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong