Do you remember high school? If you don’t, I’m sorry to remind you, but I was thinking the other day about lessons I learned there.
I particularly remember when one of my friends started dating a girl at my school. Like most teenage males, he was pretty new to the world of relationships, but he shared with me that he had been doing his research. I remember laughing when I learned that Wikihow’s animated guide to kissing was his source.
There was just something that seemed silly to me about reading a step by step guide to something that was supposed to be spontaneous. I realized later that I was being an ass (I didn’t have a clue about how to kiss a girl) and that my friend was onto something.
We live in the world of Wikihow – the world of the search engine, product forum, and online FAQ. The knowledge that could once only be had through special coming of age traditions, ancient tomes, prestigious universities, or parental guidance can now be had for free, in seconds. That includes everything from how to kiss a girl to how to install a showerhead or how to read liturgical Latin.
We can respond to this world in one of two ways. Like me, we can be too snobbish to embrace that knowledge. Much like the anti-consumerists of the past half-century, we can choose to be disgusted by this cheap, mass-produced knowledge as much as we’re turned off by cheap, mass-produced food. Something like a first kiss should be a personal romantic experience, not sullied by the advice of random strangers on the Internet, right?
Or, like my friend, we can adopt mindsets suitable for a search engine world. My friend didn’t “cheapen” his experience of his first kiss. He wanted to learn how to do something, and he chose not to wait for the knowledge to come to him. He went out and got it, and he probably had better results in the kissing department in the otherwise awkward years of high school. I, on the other hand….
“Going out and getting it” is a part of the art of learning in our world. It’s only through (eventually) coming around to it that I’ve been able to do things I never would have expected to do at my age, like moving to a new city on my own and learning how to work in a new industry with a new skillset.
Most of that’s thanks to sites like Wikihow. All of the animated, simplistic, DIY step by step guides out there are incredible tools to have, no matter how imperfect. Anyone with an internet connection can now share their knowledge of kissing techniques (among other things) with everyone online in the rest of the world. That’s scary, but in a good way, and it’s tipping the balance toward the young, the inexperienced, and the curious like never before.
Will you be too proud to Wikihow what you don’t know, or are you living your life to take advantage of the knowledge waiting for you out there?