The Obligation to Learn

January 28, 2023 - By

I should learn more stuff. So should you!

In my youth if I needed to learn something specific I had to travel somewhere; usually a room full a books that I had to take a bus to. Now I don’t even have to leave the couch. In less than a decade, the information-hunting experience went from travel to trivial. In fact, no generation of humans has ever had it better: We are spoiled for educational resources, the Internet gives us access to the greatest collection of human information ever gathered, and we live longer. So therefore, every generation must learn more than the previous right? Not quite.

My family got online with our first personal computer in 1994 (233 megahertz, 8kb of RAM, lol). I was in my teens, my parents were in their thirties. So considering I was a student who had assigned learning, and had considerably more free time, it would make sense if I used the web more than my parents (I did), and that I learned more as a result (I didn’t). An increase in tech savvy and access does not directly lead to more learning.

So why don’t we learn more?

The short answer is that learning is hard. This video turned my understanding of thinking inside out.

Before watching this I have been more prone to optimize my life decisions around simplicity and efficiency than the disciplined act of learning through the difficult process of processing and than practicing information.

Ironically this video was from YouTube – a resource that has the potential to be one of the greatest sources of distraction in my life. Initially I thought the platform’s proliferation of ten minute content was the smallest dose of information that could be practical – but millions of people using Tiktok are happier with less… It’s one of the scariest things I can think of: to train an entire generation to have an eleven second attention span. This is the greatest dichotomy I know of: the increasing access to education online and the decreasing attention span of the internet’s citizens. The next generation has the greatest potential to waste time.

So learning has to happen on purpose. Five years from now what habits will I wish I started today?

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This post was written by Arley