Although sometimes I hate to admit it, I belong to Gen Y, the Millennials, Generation Next. I do not have a college degree despite the years I spent in college. I spent a period of time cohabitating prior to getting married. I have had access to the internet since I was in high school. I feel that information should be free and, yes, I do believe that I can accomplish anything I put my keyboard to. All of these things tell me that I belong in this generation even though my birth date is on the edge of inclusion. But I try not to let it get to me too much, especially given that for as much as I identify with my generation, I equally dissociate with it.
Yes, I grew up with the internet. I remember when the modem had to sing me the song of its people before I could connect to the wide world of music piracy and endless dirty jokes. I had an email account before I really even knew what that meant. I could use a search engine to answer any question I could think of, so long as I knew how to ask it *just* the right way. And while the rest of my generation may have taken these gifts and run with them in an attempt to better their lives – or whatever it is that normal people aspire to do – I feel like I may as well still be in the dark ages of the internet. For it appears that in my disdain for technology, I may have handicapped my ability to relate to the rest of the world.
Does technology have a role on the farm? This is not one of those rhetorical questions to be followed by anecdotal evidence in the affirmative. I am genuinely asking because I would really like to know. In my experience, certain aspects of technology have been great. There is nothing I cannot accomplish with Google by my side. People say I’m brave; a woman with children, running a farm, sticking a garden hose down a bovine esophagus and cutting testicles out of piglets with one hand tied behind my back. But really, if it weren’t for the false sense of security afforded me by my Google search engine, I probably wouldn’t have done either of those things. Which really begs the question, am I brave or am I just dumb enough to try anything Google says I can do? We don’t need to answer that – and we sure as hell don’t need to ask Google for its opinion on the matter either.
What does Google know anyway? How is it that I have almost based my entire career on an all powerful, all knowing, pain-in-the-butt piece of technology. Have you ever tried to Google something that you *really* needed to know? One day last fall, I was wondering aloud about the reproductive lifespan of heritage breed boars. In other words, how long can I expect to breed my Large Black boar before his fertility rate begins to decline? So I Googled “reproductive lifespan of Large Black boar.” When I received my reply, I could only find links to articles on ‘black bears.’ Hmmmm. Maybe I should try using a different, more common, name associated with the Large Black breed. “Reproductive lifespan of Devon boar,” that ought to do it, no? Now I was being referred to articles on woodlouse. Okay, let’s try “reproductive lifespan of heritage breed boar” shall we? And once again, I am directed to some less than helpful articles – ‘How to Breed Pigs.’ Thank you, Mother Earth News, but I think the boar has that part covered. As a final attempt, I Googled “how long boar make the sexy time.” Score! A few scholarly articles pop up on the reproductive lifespan of commercial and heritage breed hogs – yet after reading them I still don’t really have a solid answer to my question. And even though I am going to have to rely on good old-fashioned first-hand experience to answer my question, I feel as though I have won the internet for the night … or have I?
Of course now if you Google the same terms, it will become apparent that someone is covering their tracks. Why? Because the internet is smart like that. So how much trust should I put into something that throws me for a loop like that? My generation has grown up feeling that because of the internet, anything is possible. Younger generations, however, seem to be of the impression that without the internet, nothing is possible. Clearly, they haven’t tried to find out how long they can breed a Large Black boar using only the internet. Hmph. I guess the lesson with relying on technology in farming is to take everything with a grain of salt. It can be difficult to keep up with the rapid advancements and new applications. I mean, I am just starting to really enjoy this emailing thing and everyone else is already on to texting. With smart phones. I don’t even have a regular cell phone, let alone a smart one. And just the other day, my nearly 80 year old Grandmother sent me a text. Granted, she sent it to my land line … but still, anyone old enough to have the name Annie-Bob that can manage to operate a cell phone with those itty-bitty buttons in a way that actually produces the desired effect … that’s some advanced maneuvering right there.
Don’t get me wrong. I know how to Facebook for personal use and for marketing strategy. I also just joined Instagram … using my eight year old’s iPad. And I joined Twitter. I’m not gonna lie, I still don’t really understand Twitter. I mean, I sort of get it, but not really – lets just say I’m not twitterpated, as it were. But I’m trying. Forget the idea behind showering on a regular basis, or the constant use of soap and deodorant, or this idea that I should wear makeup and clean clothes all the time. But when it comes to technology, to keeping up with my generational peers, I am trying. Heck, maybe it will become as much a part of my routine as my right arm … okay, let’s not go overboard. One step at a time. Maybe I’ll have a cell phone by the time this essay gets published. And surely I will have figured out how to use it within the next year or two …