Monday, January 21, 2013

A Week Without Google: Reflections

Last week I did the unthinkable; I refused to use Google. Each day I posted a couple of reflections and a list of some of the things that I wanted to search for but could not. Here they are:

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four and Five

Now that you’ve not clicked those links, here are my reflections on a week without Google.


I discovered last week that my greatest use for Google is to keep myself from looking like a moron.
There were a few classes that I failed to pay attention to in school. Like those kind of important ones like English and Grammar. I am still not the best at grammar. Because of this I forget basic punctuation rules and at times I have no clue what a certain word or phrase even means. Google does for me what I failed to allow my elementary school teachers to do for me; namely, teach grammar and help me not look quite as dumb.

I remember in grade school first learning language and at times totally butchering it. I can recall the embarrassment of singing a song with horribly wrong lyrics. Or arguing a fact for hours until we could find an Encyclopedia somewhere or ask someone’s grandpa. That was in the days before Google. Now we just search for it and don’t have to have egg on our face for singing, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” instead of “excuse me while I kiss the sky”. By the way you can Google the worst misheard song lyrics and find this hilarious site.

There is a humility that comes from not knowing all of these facts. There is something refreshing with being able to say, “I have no idea if I should use a colon here”.

Information Addicts

I have become an information addict. I found myself desiring information and not being able to know the answer in only a few seconds. I don’t think I ever got to the point of twitching but there were some searches that I really wanted to make. Today I can barely remember those questions that had to be answered and I am sure that my life isn’t worse because of it.

Bare information is becoming more powerful in our day than actually knowing something. I can do a quick search about the 14th president and find out who that is. But I’ll probably have to do that same search six months from now because I never really knew who the 19th president was—I only pretended like I did. Searching for the 14th president is simply an information fix and the high wears off after about a day and we totally forget that information. But try actually doing a little research on that 14th President (whoever that dear chap might be—I’d guess Millard Fillmore but I think I’m wrong) and you’ll never forget him.

Time Wasting
My list of “searches I wanted to do” consisted of about 30 minutes each day of things that would have consumed my time. These were things that I did not need to know but because I am an information addict I thought I needed a fix. It was nice to not chase a rabbit trail and start thinking about The Shot Heard Round the World and baseball in the 1950’s.

These things are interesting. Occasionally an article might have spawned from one of these rabbit trails. More than likely I would have just filled my cranium with useless Jeopardy trivia.

Google and Bible Study
I was actually quite surprised that I did not use Google (or want to use Google) for Bible study as much. Perhaps that was the case because I was made privy to my shortcutting problem thanks to an article I wrote a few months ago.

I did find myself at times wanting to search for something before trying to figure it out on my own. By the end of the week I had already started thinking on my own more than instinctively turning to Google. I am convinced that there are times when we ought to be querying the text instead of doing a Google search.

The Benefit of Google
There are great benefits in Google. It helps with illustrations when I only have a partial thought in my head—Google helps fill it out with facts rather than my own assumptions about what happened in history. It also helps when I think of an article but totally forgot it’s location.

There are things that need to be researched that are not time wasters. There is information that legitimately is helpful to know. It is my desire in the future to start filtering these searches a little better. I want to ask myself, “Do I really need to know this?”

Finally, it does help to not make stupid punctuation and word choice errors. Though it is humbling to make dumb mistakes for all the world (or your 300+ followers) to read, it can also be counter-productive to not fix those mistakes. People stop reading whenever something looks really sloppy. It’s probably best not to get bogged down with too much grammar/punctuation type issues in a blog post, but you probably ought to be certain to get a title correct.

The Forthcoming Zombie Apocalypse

Yes, I will be able to survive. And not because I have done a Google search for how to survive a zombie apocalypse. But mostly because I spent the week watching the Discovery channel show The Colony and also because I have learned how to live without Google.
As a counterpoint, though, I believe my brain has gotten more lively and fruitful without just quickly Google searching. Therefore, it might be more tasty and appealing to zombies. I’m not sure. Maybe I should do a few Google searches to prepare myself just in case.

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