March 25, 2009

Google: trusted advisor, all-knowing confidant, magic 8-ball

I don't know when it started, but Google added a prompt/dropdown thing a while ago that offers suggestions for what you might be looking for, based on what you've typed, before you click search or "I'm feeling lucky." Such tech-related knowledge is beyond me, as is explaining why anything comes up when you search. Google is too big, too far away, too complicated, too anonymous for me to understand it.

Which is probably why so many people trust it with big, important life-questions.

The prompt/dropdown thing clues us in to just what people are Googling. Go to Google and type, "should I..." and you'll see some options come up.

Should I call him?
Should I refinance?
Should I get a divorce?
Should I go to law school?

Type "how should I," and you'll see stuff ranging from the mundane to the intensely personal.

How should I get my haircut?
How should I do my makeup?
How should I ask her out?
How should I propose?

"Why do I..." him?
...sweat so much?
...have so much gas?

How do I know...

...If a guy or girl likes you?
...If you're pregnant?
...If your in love? (This one has 91,300,000 results. "if you're in love" has about half that many.)

When should I...

...get married?
...take creatine?

And, of course, google isn't immune to the deeper religious and philosophical questions.

Why does God...

...allow children to suffer? me?

Why doesn't God... himself?
...heal amputees?

I've done this before. (Maybe not with the deeper religious stuff. Yet.) And you probably have, too. The question is on your mind, and Google is right there, why not ask? For example, I know very little about cars. If I hear a noise, see an oil spot where I parked, smell something burning, see something burning, the first thing I do is... call dad. Then maybe I Google it later. Google is great for those of us who are automotively handicapped.

I guess what makes me feel a little ocky is that Google seems to be a go-to resource for relationship questions. People want definite, concrete answers; they want to follow the formula. And if that formula is out there, Google probably has it. So people take their intensely personal questions, from their unique individual situations, and bring them before the vast, anonymous space of the internet.

"Should I get a divorce?" (2,430,000 results.)

? You want Google to be your magic 8-ball on that one? Did you talk to your husband/wife before you googled it? I hope so. Or maybe you talked to your family and friends about it? If their advice was, "I dunno. Why dontcha Google it?" then I wouldn't blame you for seeking help elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

you left out "should i go to law school?" and "should i shave my pubic hair?"


it's like the youtube drop down (which i appreciate), but far more sad in the nature of the answers expected from an internet search engine pertaining to real life. it's a lack of connectivity, in part. kinda the same as this:

Jenni Stanford said...

Four years later and here I am still getting chuckles from your witty banter....