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Google can’t tell you everything

Progressive Cattle Editor Carrie Veselka Published on 28 May 2021

I once saw a post on Facebook from a member of a women’s ag group asking for examples of ranch lingo her daughter could use as part of a school presentation. There were dozens of helpful comments ranging from “pushing the drag” to vocab terms like “free martin.” I grew up on a ranch, but some of these terms I’d never heard, and my first impulse was to hop on Google and see what I could find. Then, my common sense caught up with me and whispered, “Some things you just don’t find on Google.”

As a millennial, I have become accustomed to having a wealth of knowledge accessible at a few keystrokes (or thumb taps, although I’m more of a pointer finger kind of gal.) This was an acquired taste, though. Growing up, we didn’t have the internet, although we did have a computer hidden away in an airless, windowless broom closet cleverly disguised as a sewing room. The dingy white monstrosity groaned like the dead rising when you turned it on and gave this forlorn wheeze every minute or so the entire time you used it. It also raised the temperature of the room by about 20 degrees, so getting stuck in there typing up a report for school could be quite the ordeal. The kicker is that aside from a Mavis Beacon typing tutorial on a floppy disk and a kid’s history game on CD, it was completely useless for anything besides typing documents on a version of Word that was old enough to need dentures and a walker.

In a cruel twist of irony, my grandparents got the internet sometime in the early 2000s – got to keep up with those grandkids – while my parents didn’t get the internet at our house until the Christmas after I graduated from high school, some 10 years later. So, when I was in high school and had an online English literature class, I spent hours at my grandparent’s house puzzling over Hamlet and Frankenstein while trying to tune out the Jeopardy reruns and RFD-TV blaring in the background.

When I got to college, I blissfully embraced modern conveniences like laptops and Wi-Fi and flip phones and later hopped on the smartphone bandwagon when it came along. Since then, I think technology has hit a plateau. We’re in the tweaking stages of all the great ideas we had 10 years ago. For example, the smartphone was revolutionary, but the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is going a bit too far, and let’s not forget the watch cycle. From a watch you keep in your pocket, to a watch you wear on your wrist, to a phone you keep in your pocket, to a phone Apple watch you wear on your wrist. Such a brilliant idea.

For all my snark, technology really is a wonderful tool. Tech and tools in the ag industry have helped us feed the world much more efficiently, and technology has helped us advance as a global community and enabled us to stay connected and productive even as we have gone through a year of social distancing, webinars and video conferencing ad nauseum.

As wonderful as all of that is, there are some things that just cannot be learned by staring at a screen.

A screen doesn’t teach you how to drag yourself out of bed in the morning to do chores before school. 

It doesn’t teach you what it feels like to try to hold back the tears as you say goodbye to your 4-H steer after the sale is over. 

It can’t describe the buzz in the air when you attend a gathering of your people.

It doesn’t prepare you for attacks from everyone from the government policymakers to your cousin from the city about your way of life and how it’s evil and wrong. 

It doesn’t soothe away the ringing in your ears or the lingering smell of burnt hair in your nostrils after branding is finished. 

It also, for some reason, can’t give accurate directions to the Hermit Ranch in The Middle of Nowhere, U.S.A., which, you can depend upon it, is at least five miles of bumpy, twisty gravel road south of where your GPS says it is.

I guess you need people for some things after all.  end mark

Carrie Veselka
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