Google it!

The problem for me is that Googling it may lead to a discredited, or at least controversial, source.

Google.itSo an old, terrestrial friend of mine asked on Facebook:

Am I wrong when I ask someone to explain their post when it is confusing to me?
I don’t understand when people tell me to ‘Google it’.
In my strange little world, if I make a post that doesn’t make sense without additional information, I feel it is my responsibility to provide a link.
Am I wrong?

Well, I think this is obviously a correct interpretation; you are NOT wrong.

But apparently, there’s this OTHER meaning of the phrase, one I’m not quite picking up on. “It just means ‘I don’t know either’ or ‘I don’t have time to explain all of this,” I’m told. Rather like in this article.

I think “Google it” is a bit lazy UNLESS they are the argumentative sort who deny facts. “New York is larger than California” – no, it’s not. THAT they can Google.

Then Chris asked for Ask Roger Anything:

Sometimes you’re in a group of people debating a pretty simple fact (e.g. are nectarines just fuzzless peaches or are they totally different?) and no one whips out the $500 hunk of technology in their pocket and Googles it. Why not? It’s a basic fact thing.

It’s funny because people around me are ALWAYS pulling out their devices. I do it myself when a bit of information that I know suddenly escapes me.

The problem for me is that Googling it may lead to a discredited, or at least controversial, source. I could Google “climate change hoax”. That wouldn’t prove that climate change is a hoax. But I could imagine someone say it is, as “proof” of their theory.

I Googled the original name of AIDS, and I found at the Encyclopedia Dramatica that “Gay-Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the original term for the now politically-correct expression AIDS.” Politically correct?

Just this month, Google has announced that it will offer better medical advice when you search your symptoms, which suggests that the previous results were not as robust as they might have been.

Another person I know personally wanted to access a useful website to find good quotations. Someone jumped in to say to use Google; that was obviously an inadequate response. What he wanted was a link such as

I guess, as a librarian, I find the belief that Google is the end-all disconcerting. And telling someone to use it is essentially blowing someone off. A better answer might be, “I don’t know.”

Shooting Parrots makes this point: “Whatever it is you need to know is just a click away on your computer… and yet does the fact that it is there, 24/7, mean that we value it less? Do we no longer need to bother with the tedious business of learning things, because there is an app out there that does all the learning for you?”

What bugs me even more, though, are the people who, when someone takes a position different from theirs, snarl, “Do your homework!” I saw this a LOT in debates between Bernie Sanders supporters and the backers of Hillary Clinton, especially leading up to the April 19, 2016 primary in New York.

And speaking of the Democratic candidate, there is no evidence that Google is manipulating searches to help Hillary Clinton.


Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Google it!”

  1. I personally find the growing distrust of “Googling it” somewhat heartening, as I am one of those people who either has the fact in question stored somewhere in her brain, or, very often, can lay her hand on a (fact checked) book that contains it. (I have a freakish memory for things and sometimes I take comfort in maybe THAT would be my post-zombie-apocalypse reason for being allowed to live: that I was a repository of knowledge)

    And I do think being purposely obscure and then telling people to “google it” is not just lazy, it’s a little rude. Then again, I have, as I was once told, a “teacher’s heart,” so maybe that’s just me.

  2. Your friends are obviously different than mine. Some of mine really like to debate truly stupid, Googleable facts (is Albany bigger than Chicago? When did The Last Unicorn come out?)

    The fact that you have to vet websites is another problem. I have friends who believe in the worst pseudoscience (including antivax) due to their inability to vet information.

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