I liked that you ended with a reference to laziness, since my post was all about laziness. I think that the idea of “thinking outside the box” being opposed to being lazy is incorrect, however; when Robert Fulton showed Napoleon how he could use fewer men, less energy, and a new idea called steam power to move ships faster across the seas, Napoleon laughed at him, because he couldn’t think outside of the box for a convenient, beneficial solution. He wanted to work hard, but he didn’t want to work smart. Lazy people, by necessity, work smart; we select what’s most important, and determine the quickest route to the solution.
I would like to argue that, given that we have read the written word for thousands of years, and yet only very recently have (relatively, few decades years of so) experienced a massive shift in our society away from the book culture of knowledge, that it is not us who have failed to think outside the box; it’s those that want to cling to a pre-Modern understanding of intelligence and informational access that are not thinking outside the box.
They see that we read less and thus they think we’re stupider; they see that we skim and scan instead of delving in and thus they say we’re flippant. They think we read less because we’re too dumb or too uninspired to focus ourselves, and that’s all bullshit. We’re just as motivated, just as inspired, and almost certainly more open to new ideas and ways of thinking; and because of that we’ve gotten good at scanning and skimming, finding what we need and removing what we don’t. It’s different than reading in depth, sure, but it’s not worse. It’s probably better. It’s certainly more efficient.
I’m not saying in-depth reading is bad; it’s different. But I think that our society’s shift away from that as our primary means of informational access and organization is by no means a detriment. I think it’s wonderful; it enables faster thought, more fluid connectivity, and better ideas. It’s made us more capable of whittling down the things we’re uninterested in to get to the things we really want to know and understand. It might seem more selfish, and definitely more lazy, but we’re all selfish, lazy people, and I think Google indulging those parts of me isn’t making me any stupider; it’s making me smarter.