What do you know?

A friendly challenge was issued by one of my real life friends on Facebook, and I quote, “Give me two facts about Beirut without recourse to the Internet or encyclopaedias or newspaper or interrogation of friends”.

I thought she was seeking to prove a point: we are all far too dependent upon reference works, and chiefly, the Internet, and store remarkably little information in our (depending on your take on things) God-given brains.

The thought-process was more tangential than that. I guess she wanted to know if anyone else immediately thought of this factoid: “Beirut was named the top place to visit in 2009 by The New York Times. It was also listed as one of the ten liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet in 2009.”

Of the seven responses she received, only two mentioned it as a travel destination – and one of those was an indirect reference. The chances of anyone within her circle even reading the same article on Beirut – let alone anything about Beirut at all – were infinitesimally small.

I used to be an information gobbler. I would swallow chunks of facts whole, regurgitate a couple of times, swallow again, and digest well. Now I feel as if I treat new information much like chewing gum, which I discard as soon as the flavour is gone.

Hong Kong, by the way, banned the import and sale of chewing gum way back in 1992, which is the same year the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro and Agenda 21 was drawn up. Does anyone remember the sudden appearance on public litter bins of the slogan, “Think globally, act locally”? You can thank the United Nations for that. For more on Beirut (capital of Lebanon), try Google.

The word in bold appeared in the previous post.

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