I never claimed to not be neurotic. As my Dad liked to point out years ago, “He’s not happy unless he’s miserable”. So it comes as no surprise that things that rankle me may go unnoticed among the more mentally balanced of us.
Lately I feel that I’ve been set upon by hordes of Googlianos, those people with a need to Google all manner of knowledge. I have no qualms with knowledge. I have nothing against Google. Both good things. But shouldn’t there be a modicum of restriction as to when, where, and how much?
I see entire families: Mommy, Daddy, Lance, and Ashley Googliano at the next table in a restaurant. Each armed with their own smart phone frantically thumbing their way to indispensible information. Any human interaction tossed aside for a Q&A session with cyberspace.
And that’s at the next table! At my table, I’m afraid to offer an opinion or even a rhetorical assumption without being corrected, challenged, or investigated by a close and friendly Googliano. Sometimes I’d like to just wonder aloud if Tanaka’s pitching tonight without someone whipping out their phone and offering, “I’ll Google it”. Please don’t! I can wait.
Google, I concede, is a tremedous advancement in our society. I just get this uneasy anxiety when nothing’s left to supposition or imagination. And I feel bad for the encyclopedias. They’re extinct. All the encyclopedia salesmen are on Medicaid. I miss encyclopedias. I don’t know why. I hated the one we had in our home: Funk & Wagnalls. The school library had Brittanica. The town library had Brittanica. That was a great encyclopedia. Large print, lots of pictures, and each volume had its own letter unless, of course, it was a letter without a lot to say like a Q or an X. Then it would be Volume Q,R or X,Y,Z. You knew what you were getting.
But Funk&Wagnalls? It might be volume Aar-Com or Pan-Rob. You really had to be up on your alphabetical order if that was the source for your term paper. But whichever one you went to, you got an in-depth presentation on the topic. With Google, you get a sound-bite and move on. It’s like a watered down education.
Remember the phrase “He’s a walking encyclopedia”? It identified someone who had, over a period of time, amassed a great amount of knowledge. Through experience, scholarship, research. A guy like that was respected because he (or she) was smart. Googlianos seem smart with so much information at their thumbtips. But if everybody’s smart, then nobody’s smart.
I had a friend who was a walking encyclopedia. I called him Ke-nel. His real name was Kennelly so I didn’t actually dig too deep for a nickname. Ke-nel and I worked together in the garden department at Home Depot. You don’t get rich loading bags of mulch into shopping carts. I didn’t make too much and Ke-nel made even less but we always seemed to find the price of a couple brews after work and became good friends. He may have been the most intelligent man I’ve ever met. He could talk about anything. His photographic memory enabled him to retain anything he saw, read, or heard. He’d have killed on Jeopardy. But if Google had been around, that distinction would have been lost among all the pseudo-geniuses around him.
Too much information can be deadly. A buddy of mine, Russ, (I call him Russ; His real name is Russell. I’m starting to realize that I suck at nicknames) and I share common interests. We both like to fish. We both like to kayak. We both like to fish from our kayaks. Fishing from a kayak takes a lot of work and dexterity. You’ve got a paddle, fishing rod, bait bucket, tackle box, anchor, and storage space to deal with while sitting in basically a plastic tub that you’ll need a hoist to get out of.
Russ is a Googliano. He just flips out his little I-phone, taps a voice icon and opens up a direct dialog with the gods. He Googled “fishing kayaks”. To his credit, he did it on his own time and in the privacy of his own home. However, being the good friend that he is, he knew it necessary to share his findings with me. There on his five-inch screen was the mother of all kayaks: a seven-level adjustable seat, foot peddles and a rudder, a spot for an electric motor, enough width and stability to stand up in. Never had I imagined such a pimped-out kayak. How anyone can live without one, I do not know. It is now on my list of things to buy. Right ahead of food. Problem is I can’t afford it and, if he’d just kept his Google to himself, I could have continued on my merry way with my fishing pole between my toes.
Persistent googling is an addiction. If it’s not listed as a clinically recognized disorder in the Psychiatric Handbook for Dummies, it should be. Hey; everything else is. Obviously it begs for remedy. I think I might be onto something and New Jersey is primed to lead the way.
We have a governor who is desperate for money. With no problem reaching into other people’s pockets, he is the Dali Lama of taxing. Uber and Lyft, dry cleaning, marijuana, sales tax increase, gas tax uptick, e-cigarettes, air-bnb, online sales, income tax boost. Everything’s up for grabs. Google it. And then pay for Google!
A Google tax – that’s my plan. You Google, you pay. That ought to save a lot of wear and tear on the thumbs and keep the Googlianos at bay. Let’s just hope that Governor Murphy doesn’t read this blog.