Tuesday, October 19, 2010

what not to google

One superhero talent I would like is the Ability To Google Things I Should Google And Nothing Else. It’s not that flight and invisibility aren’t appealing, but they both come with certain inherent dangers (try crossing the street when invisible) and they’re not as suited to the information age. With the internet, you already are invisible, and you don’t really need to go anywhere.

But I would like to be like AK or Jamie or Kathy—they’re always doing the kind of internet searches that make one smarter. They seek out new literary journals and information about breastfeeding practices in Afghanistan. In theory, I’m totally interested in these things, but I have a strong lazy, uncurious streak. Mention an amazing new writer in front of me and, even if I’m right next to my computer, I’ll just smile and nod and pretend like I’m already familiar with her. Speculate about what the weather might be like tomorrow and I’ll just speculate right back: “Oh, I’m thinking partly cloudy.” If the information is useful, I don’t want to know it. No matter how fascinating it is, it turns into lima beans before my eyes.

On the other hand, celebrity gossip? Long lost high school frenemies? Diseases I might have? Bring ‘em on! Because this information is brain candy at best, brain poison at worst, I can’t stop my fingers from typing words I shouldn’t. Leprosy + symptoms. Bedbugs + signs. Seychelles + shoes + sale. The worst part is that now my computer knows how obsessive I am. It knows I worry about certain medical conditions and that I really like shoes. Facebook ads are always encouraging me to self-publish my novel. Facebook doesn’t have very big dreams for me.

Maybe I have this problem because my mom was a librarian—a googler before there was Google. She loved helping me do the research for class projects, and I quickly became a barefoot shoemaker’s child. Or, like, a shoemaker’s child with really awesome shoes she didn’t even know how to untie. Now I leave a lot of research to AK. She plans our trips and learns about things like brain development. “Just give me the highlights,” I say. I’m not a superhero, just a willing damsel in distress, happily tied to the train tracks of unhealthy information.


Peter Varvel said...

When I'm on the phone at work and desperate to fill the aching, empty seconds between dialing and leaving messages, it's easier to google images for 'furby' or 'mermaid' than to actually attempt something educationally enhancing.
Hilarious post, thank you!

Cheryl said...

I have totally google image-searched mermaids! I'm sure Furby is in my near future.