When I was a kid, we had a set of 1962 World Book encyclopedias that I used for every school project. Unfortunately, this meant some of the information I included in papers and presentations was a little bit dated (and tragically optimistic about the bright future of the Kennedy administration, now that I think about it). Often, it didn’t matter very much– the Great Wall of China, for instance, has been doing pretty much the same thing since the Ming dynasty patched it up in the 1460s. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about the Chinese government. You can only tell your classmates about the “recent” communist threat so many times before your teacher starts questioning your research methods.
Around the same time I was realizing that the Cold War had been over for the better part of a decade, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were inventing something that would change my life forever.
I love Google so much I can’t even stand it. For someone who collects stupid pieces of trivia like your great aunt’s sweaters collect cat hair, Google is a godsend. It horrifies me to think that if I had been born at another time, I wouldn’t have had the ability to find answers to my stupidest questions in 0.43 seconds. If I lived in the 80’s, for example, and I thought to myself, “Self, how old do you think Leonardo da Vinci was when he died?”, I wouldn’t be able to type that into a box and come back with an answer (ANSWER: 67) in less than five seconds. If I didn’t have access to a library or a conveniently-located Renaissance expert, I would just have to sigh, resign the question to the pile of unsolved mysteries in my head, and get on with my daily routine of saying things like “bogus”, “shoulder pads”, and “trickle-down Reaganomics”. What a sad, backwards time that must have been.
It’s not just the information, though. Oh no. I’m a fact-collecting fiend, but my relationship with Google goes beyond that. As I typed “Can Steve Carell actually ice skate?” (ANSWER: YES!) into the search box the other day in order to settle a bet, I realized that at some point, the dynamic between Google and I went from “librarian/over-eager patron” to something less healthy. Google is my social crutch.
There Must Be 50 Ways to Misuse Google
Ask What to Wear, Cher: Everyone knows you should look nice at a job interview, but what if you have a job interview at a very specific company? Someone being interviewed to work at Subway, for example, would dress differently than someone being interviewed for a teller position at a bank. Other professions have their own unique dress codes. Looking like you’d be a good fit matters. You can Google things like, “What to wear to a job interview at a laid-back graphic design company located next to a small bakery” and Google will find something for you. (ANSWER: A nice shirt, hipster glasses, and skinny jeans with pockets big enough to fit at least two cupcakes.) Maybe you want to wear a new pair of shoes, but you don’t know which clothes they match. There are many mornings I go to work dressed by Google.
Find Out If You’re Sick, Rick: Your nose is running, you have a prominent forehead vein, your foot kind of itches, and you can hear your breathing more than usual. Clearly there’s something wrong with you, but you’d feel stupid going to the doctor with a list of symptoms like that. Google it! (ANSWER: It’s cancer.) If you can’t pronounce the name of the disease Google thinks you have, Google it again! (ANSWER: It’s still cancer!)
Avoid Small Talk, Brock: If you see me at a party or a bar, and I’m looking down at my phone like someone is texting me the secret to eternal life, there’s a high probability that I’m trying to avoid small talk by busily Googling celebrity heights or something. In fact, you may be the person I’m avoiding, so don’t interrupt. If you must interrupt, know that I’ve probably memorized a bunch of unrelated Wikipedia articles in an attempt to disguise my conversational ineptitudes. Our talk will go something like this:
“How’s work, Stephanie?”
“ANSWER: Everyone on the brigantine merchant ship ‘Mary Celeste‘ disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1872! So… work is good.”
Wonder If It’s Love… Guv: I’m really trying to get away from the whole “I don’t do emotions” mindset, but there are still some signs that I’m maybe not the best at feelings yet. If I have a relationship question, my first impulse is to Google it. Is it cool to ask someone on a date by throwing a note tied to a rock through their window? Google it. Does he find you repulsive because he didn’t kiss you on the first date? Google it. Is there a chance you can get a Roy Orbison impersonator to sing at the wedding you planned before he even knew your name? Google it! (ANSWER: You can get a Roy Orbison impersonator RIGHT HERE, you charming psychopath, you!) Google is the older sister I never had.
There’s a chance that I’m wasting my life Googling things no one should ever need to know. It can probably be argued that human interaction is more valuable than sorting through billions of webpages dedicated to trivial items. I guess it’s just nice to know that even at my craziest, when it’s 3 a.m. and I can’t go to sleep because it’s suddenly vital that I remember the words to the ukulele-tuning song, Google is there for me with no judgment. (ANSWER: “My dog has fleas!”)
Incidentally, 14 things were Googled in the making of this post.