Mar 29 2010

Google, Should I?

I’ll be the first to say that I love Google, and I run to it for information on just about anything that crosses my mind.  Therefore, I include myself in the next statement:  It’s moderately ridiculous how much we depend on Google to help us live our lives.

I don’t remember what I was searching for, but I went to my Google search bar in Firefox and typed “should ,” and these apparently popular suggestions popped up:

Should I get the H1N1 vaccine?

We ask Google how to take care of our health and that of our children.  We trust that Google will offer articles with unbiased explanations of medical terms, reasons for and against treatments, and images and descriptions of phenomena to diagnose ourselves.  Google will also connect us with communities that discuss these questions and offer anecdotes and support.

Should I refinance my mortgage?

When times get tough, we turn to Google for financial advice.  Which credit card should I pay off first?  Should I refinance my mortgage?  There are pages and pages of loan and interest calculators; strategies for investing, growing, and protecting money; and services that will manage your money for you. 

Should I get a divorce?

Parenting and maintaining strong relationships are fundamental challenges of the human experience for which there are no official guidebooks.  Thank gawd for Google.  Want to know how a divorce will affect your kids or your finances?  Need to know how to set boundaries for yourself, your husband, or your children?  Blogs, columns, communities, and sales pitches abound in Google’s search results to give you the answers.

Should I upgrade to Windows 7?

Almost a no-brainer.  What better place to go for information on computers and the internet than the internet itself?  Tech pages, tech services, and reviews out the wazoo are yours for the using for any tech questions through Google.

Should I call him?

This one makes me laugh.  It’s a very valid question, and one that we’ve all asked (or, “Should I call her?”).  All the same, this used to be a question asked of your mom/dad, brother/sister, or best friend.  The idea that we would turn to the internet’s aggregation of the collective human relationship experience for such a personal and vulnerable question both stuns me and makes a rather loud statement about us.


I want to point out that the answers to several of these questions are life-changing.  Decisions about finances, health, and relationships will affect us for years to come.  While we do make the choices ourselves based on the input we get, I think it’s amazing that we turn to an internet search result’s collection of personal articles, stories, and opinions to help shape our lives.  Instead of (or in addition to) turning to the people we know and trust, more and more people are reaching out to the vast interweb community of people they’ve never met to aid them.

I think this is both spectacular in a generation-y, we’re-├╝ber-connected sort of way and scary in a why-are-we-so-cyber-dependent sort of way.  What do you think?  How do you use Google?

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