These Teenagers Just Don't Get Encyclopedias


When I was a kid, if I wanted to look something up, I couldn’t fire up the computer and hit up Google—it didn’t exist yet. Instead, kids of my generation turned to encyclopedias, a fact that horrifies the teenagers in the Fine Brothers’ latest video. “[Encyclopedias were] Google way back in the day,” one boy says. “It was the worst of times.”

Some have used them for projects, but only when they were very little, and some have no idea what they are—or how to use them. (And why would they, when they're used to typing something in a search engine and pressing enter?) When asked to look up “reading,” it takes a few of them a bit to realize they need to look in the book marked Q-R, and they’re puzzled when there’s not a table of contents or back index that would point them to the right page. “You just have to go about it on your own,” one girl says. “It takes forever—this is annoying! This is why I don’t use these.” Said another: “Five whole minutes of my life is gone when I could have found it in .00098 seconds with Google!” And their minds were blown by how much the books cost in the 1980s: $1500 to $2000 for a full set. “I value knowledge very highly, but I do think that’s a bit steep,” one girl says.

When asked about whether or not they could imagine having to use these books instead of using the Internet, most kids responded that yeah, they could probably do it. But, in the words of one guy, “I would hate it I would hate it I would hate it.” 

Still, the teens do recognize the benefits of books edited by experts over sites like Wikipedia, which can be edited by anyone, whether they’re knowledgeable or not—and, of course, you can always turn to books when your wi-fi is slow!