Revive Speculation!

A woman who took my workshop at Rowe Center last weekend commented, “The internet has put an end to speculation.”

She’s right! When you’re having a conversation with someone and a question comes up—In what year did Paul McCartney and John Lennon meet? What does hegemony mean? How exactly did the Cuban missile crisis end?—somebody invariably reaches for their smart phone, googles the question, and shares the answer with everyone.

But imagine what would ensue if we refrained from demanding instant resolution. People would venture guesses. Memories would emerge, some inaccurate. Theories would form, some improbable. One person’s contribution to the question would kindle a sliver of answer in someone else. The conversation would unfurl, slip, slide, backtrack. Funny answers would emerge. Someone would have a personal story to share.

Maybe, after all that, everyone agrees it’s time to look the thing up.

Twice, since the woman in the group made that observation, I’ve had occasion to urge friends in conversation not to grab their smartphone as soon as some perplexing issue arises.  And it’s really been worth the delay!

Try it! Revive speculation!

(Cartoon above by Dave Coverly/