Thursday, January 26, 2012

Google Overload: When Search Engines Take Over Your Brain

A while back I was trying to remember a story my grandmother once told me. It was a true story from her childhood about a time when she was walking in the woods in the dark. She heard an owl up in a tree, and as she continued down the road, it followed her. It was a sweet story because she had always felt as though the owl had been protecting her.

google search overload syndromeBut I can’t recall much of the rest of the details. Where was she going? I think she was headed home from somewhere…why was she afraid? I know there is more to it, but my brain seems to have lost some of the pieces of the puzzle. I wanted to know more. So for a brief moment, the thought actually crossed my mind to google it.
Yes, for a split second I had my fingers poised over the keyboard, ready to type in something along the lines of, “grandma owl story” or “owl protection in the dark” (which sounds more like a forest animal birth control ad, now that I think about it). I don’t know what I would have typed in – luckily, I never got to that point. I’m so glad that my brain caught on to the ridiculousness of that act before it actually went through with it.

That close call with insanity made me realize how much I rely on the Internet, and especially Google, for my information fix. I google everything:

“What do you want to do this weekend? “Hold on…hmmm, looks like there’s a street festival on Saturday.”

“What’s the name of that song?” “Um, I don’t…wait, let me google the lyrics real quick!”

 “Liam Neeson looks really large in his movies. He must be really tall.” “Just a second…why, you’re right! He's six foot four!" (Yes, that really happened.)

I can’t remember what life was like before I literally had everything I ever wanted to know at my fingertips. I just remember wishing I had encyclopedias whenever I had a question about something. My kids aren’t even going to know what an encyclopedia is.

"Mom, is that like Wikipedia?”
“Ugh…no. Nevermind – go ride your bike!”
“Bike? Are you talking about my hovercraft?”

I realize this isn’t a new concept. I’m sure you recall those Bing commercials about ‘Search Overload Syndrome'. Yeah, I could totally relate. I can waste so much time clickety-clicking my way across the Internet. But you know it’s really bad when you almost attempt to google things that can’t be googled.

Of course, now that Facebook has ‘Timeline’, it might not be long before we can start googling our life events and actually come up with a few hits.

Too bad Facebook wasn’t around while my grandma was still here. I’m sure she would have tagged me in her owl story note, right?