That set of Colliers Encyclopedias was not only my source of all things scientific and artistic, but also served as my escape from the real world. But reading so much at an early age also had its drawbacks. Armed with so much information in my brain sort of made me a know-it-all among my peers. Few seven year olds knew how the solar system was structured or that white light, when passed through a prism, comes out the other end as different colors. All that was before Google. Now we haven’t got to read books or engage volumes of encyclopedias to know stuff. All we have to do is ask Google.
Years ago, when I first got my Blackberry phone, I loaded the Google Maps feature on it and had such fun locating places all over the world. After a while, I deleted it from my system as it took up too much space from the memory and also drained the battery too quickly. That was my first experience with Google.
Now Google is as commonplace as A-B-C and is used by all. Information is just a click away and no one has any excuse not to know anything anymore. I now have a modern Android smartphone and it’s even easier and faster. It was once said that a little learning is a dangerous thing. But too much knowledge can also have a deleterious effect on persons who can’t handle it, especially if their brain can’t process the information in a logical way and they simply accept what’s placed before them. Even in the Bible there is the question: “Understandest thou what thou readest?”
But Google can be risky. My good friend gave me this story of how he surprised his girlfriend who lives in Florida with an unplanned visit. It was his first time visiting the United States and he was not familiar with the territory. So he turned to Google for directions to her address, hopped on a flight and landed in Miami. While there he Googled her favorite restaurant, went there and waited until she showed up as he knew that she always dined there on a Friday night. What a surprise when she walked in and saw him. But what a chance he took. I said to him: “Dude, what if she had walked in with another guy and not her girlfriends?” But Google makes people take risks, all because they’re armed with a little knowledge.
Apart from that, Google is the new fix it, repairer and builder around the house. Many of my colleagues, when stumped while effecting repairs, simply turn to Google and they know exactly what to do. “How do I fix that leak in the toilet bowl?” “Simple, just ask Google.” Sure enough, Google will supply you with 1,000 different ways to fix that leak, along with information about the history of the toilet bowl, the inventor, how many types of bowls exist and where they are located. It’s up to you to sift through the tons of information needed to fix that leak.
No longer do people go to libraries to do research. Instead, they just ask Google and it appears on their smart phones or laptop. “What was the name of that great African warrior who defeated the British?” Ask Google, and sure enough you’ll see tons of information about Shaka Zulu. Google also helps with interpersonal relationships, although the answers may not always be to the person’s liking. I know a man who Googled: “Why has my wife lost interest in me?” He got so many answers his computer crashed. What Google won’t tell him is that his wife has another lover. I recently came across some medical research where doctors were warning people not to self diagnose themselves using Google. Every human being is different
and that’s why the same symptoms in different people may not mean the same illness.
Google gives almost all of the possibilities so that persons either are lulled into a false sense of security or freak out at the medical possibilities. Someone will have a headache for days, and instead of going to the doctor, they Google “headache”. What pops up is as frightening as reading Revelations in the Bible. The causes of headaches range from lack of sleep, a blow to the head, hunger, blood clot on the brain, tumour, parasites in your head, stress, migraine, or a prelude to a brain aneurism. The possibilities are endless - and scary - and Google lists them all.
This other guy was urinating frequently, so he Googled to find out why. When he saw that the causes ranged from kidney problems, urinary tract infection, sexually transmitted disease, prostate problems, to simply drinking too much water at night, he swore that he was going to die. Some people even counter what the doctor says, for Google has all the answers. The doctor says that they have high blood pressure and Type-2 diabetes. But what does the doctor know? “I asked Google and the doctor talking foolishness. I’m not taking any medicine at all.” Oh yes, Google is the new source of diagnosis, and maybe pretty soon doctors will become obsolete. Now if only Google could write prescriptions some people would be happy.