The Internet is blamed for creating shallow thinking, with chatrooms and social networks. However, people were just as shallow in 1974. The opportunity to share information through the Internet can, if the opportunity is used properly, create deeper thinking. In 1974, if you wished to end a discussion, you had to either walk away or throw someone (often many someones) out of your room. While that can still be true today, many online discussions can simply be broken off.
When I went to college in 1974, there were just a few pay phones on each floor of the dormitory. Computers were size of rooms and limited to professionals. Computers had no monitors and were only used for business applications. Even heathkits, the build your own computers, were years away. The Super Bowl was brand new, along with Monday night football. The Carpenters were the number one group in America. Many people in my parents’ generation did not have an automobile. Both of my grandparents and my mother-in-law never had a driver’s license. Major papers had to be manually typed to be handed in, which was a serious problem. Most communication was either face to face or by letter.
The most important differences between today and 1974, from my personal perspective, are the volume or amount of information available and the ease in composing an article, paper or a letter. In 1974, libraries often had closed stacks. Closed stacks both protected valuable books from theft and allowed more books to be crammed into smaller spaces. It also made access to information more difficult. Frequently the book or article you needed was not even available at your library and you had to either request the book to be sent via interlibrary loan or you had to request a librarian to find a library that had the book, find out if the book was available, reserve the book, then go to that library.
Once you had the information you needed, you began writing the paper: by hand, with a pencil or pen on paper. Since correcting typos was very difficult, even if you owned a very expensive typewriter, you made certain your paper was written correctly before typing it.
This process required thinking through your position, your thesis, over a longer period of time. While many of the papers handed in were still of very poor quality, the authors were completely responsible for their own works.
Today, with the ease of cut and paste, Google searches, spellcheckers, auto-correction and printers, which can reprint a new paper if any errors are corrected after the paper is printed, many people have grown lazy.
Both the ease of research and the ease of creating a new paper can, in a well-disciplined writer, create higher quality research in less time. This should result in higher quality finished paper.
For the most part, that dream of a higher quality finished paper or article has not been realized. There are several reasons. Writers who used to write by hand and turn their work over to a typist now have to present a finished paper by themselves. The extra eyes of the typist caught not only typos but also logic and grammatical errors. As costs have risen, so has the pressure to produce more papers and articles in a shorter period of time. Less time means not as well thought through ideas.
In 1974, the maxim was drilled into us to finish one project before starting another. This is how the human mind works. Now the emphasis is on multitasking. While humans and animals have always multitasked, we are not machines. We can only focus on one task at a time and do that job well. Distractions have always been a part of life. Today, we allow distractions to drive us. Laws are passed against distracted driving, yet people still drive distracted. The rising fatality rates prove that.
The greatest problem is not the pressures, the tools or the distractions. It is our lack of a desire to do our best. I was taught that each project I did should be my best. I should learn something every day, something that I should be able to incorporate, include into all future projects. That was the reason for experience on resumes. That attitude was replaced by a “just get by attitude.”
Every believer should do everything he does to the Glory of God. It is the unbeliever who practices “eat, drink and by merry for tomorrow we die.”
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10: 31
Image from Kozzi.com, Instinia’s Portfolio, Antique Typewriter. http://www.kozzi.com/portfolio/index/contributor/1620