If you’re wondering what the weather will be like tomorrow, just click the tiny picture of the sun on your iPhone.
Somewhere, meteorologists are analyzing Doppler radar systems to predict wind currents and where storms are moving. Somewhere else, programmers developed the software for the weather application and came up with a way for information to travel from the weatherman to your phone.
The knowledge and technology that goes into something as common and taken-for-granted as the weather app is truly astounding.
Think about how easy it is to find information. Five minutes on a Google search, and you can learn about virtually anything you want to know. The amount of information available at the tips of our fingers is overwhelming, and we grew up with the constant ability to find answers to whatever questions we had.
The millennial generation in particular likes to have answers. We’ve lived to see many significant scientific and technological advances, and many more are always on the brink of discovery.
However, all of this information comes with a negative side effect. Those of us who grew up in the digital age are increasingly unable to cope with uncertainty.
In a world where I can find an explanation of the chemical makeup of water and predictions of the amount of snow Sioux Falls will see in April, it’s somewhat frightening to not know where I’m going to live next summer or whether I’ll even survive to see the end of the “icepocalypse.”
With all of the information wandering around the World Wide Web, it’s hard to believe there are aspects of life that we still don’t understand. Yet, uncertainty is all around.
I have no idea where my life will take me. I don’t know where I’m going to work when I graduate. I don’t know when I’ll meet my future spouse (assuming I don’t end up alone), and I don’t know how my work will make an impact on society.
If I can’t answer those questions in my life, how could I possibly wrap my head around the meaning of life, what happens after death, or reconciling differences among world religions and cultures? In the digital age, we often don’t think any deeper than a Google search.
Instead of contemplating life’s most important questions, we distract ourselves by trying to understand everything else. It’s easier to memorize the periodic table than it is to define your core values, so why not just memorize?
We so often get caught up in keeping up with technology and trying to be on top of the constant stream of new information that we lose sight of the value of uncertainty.
It’s counterintuitive to encourage uncertainty, especially coming from the girl who has a color-coordinated, hourly schedule on Google calendars. However, some of the greatest moments of growth in my life have come during times of uncertainty.
When I can’t rely on facts and figures, I’m left with my core beliefs and values, and Google can’t define those for me. If we millennials put as much time into defining our personal values as we do surfing the web, we would be much more comfortable when faced with questions we can’t answer.
Once we’ve established strong foundational values that allow us to maintain a sense of peace in uncertainty, then we can expand our minds even further.
Instead of just finding more ways to share information, we can find ways to share values and create dialogue.
Millenials have mastered many aspects of reconciling the “real world” with the digital world, but we need to remember to hold on to the values of past generations.
Information and technology have the power to take us very far in society, but we need to make sure we have our values in place, because, when faced with uncertainty, that’s what will allow us to find the answers.