Have you noticed how well items are packaged these days? I can’t open anything without cutting my fingers. Yesterday, I fought a plastic wrap on a tea box for much longer than such a simple task should take. Do you know that they sell CD and DVD openers now? I expect to see the following message on a box soon: “Batteries included. Box opener sold separately to prevent tampering.” Then again, maybe I should look for the clues more carefully: a red string to pull or a scissor line to tear. I am afraid, I am too impatient for that.
It got me thinking about how information is packaged these days. In our fast-pace life, how much time and effort are we willing to spend on acquiring knowledge we need? Internet makes it very easy to access information. We are accustomed to punching in a few words into a search engine and getting hundreds of pages of stuff. Wealth of information is at our fingertips. But does it make us more impatient and less inclined to dig deeper in our search for meaning? Are we relying too much on the sources whose credibility we cannot verify?
The other side of the spectrum is the knowledge that we have to struggle to receive. You can’t become a lawyer just by surfing the net. You have to read cases, brief them, endure the Socratic questioning, outline. Sometimes, it seems easier to pick up a study aid instead. There is an abundance of commercial outlines, hornbooks, nutshells. Even students’ briefs and outlines are available online. The thing is, though, that even if you read all of them, it won’t make you a lawyer. Don’t get me wrong, I think study aids have their place and purpose in legal education. I have personally used some. But their purpose is to aid, not to substitute for the real work. Our brains don’t like to be spoon-fed information. We are wired to solve problems. Our brains like challenges even if it feels like your head is about to split. We remember things better if we had to struggle to understand them. We have to own the material to turn it into the ready-to-use knowledge. Otherwise, we lose it. I guess, sometimes, we just have to fight through the bubble wrap because it is there for a purpose.