Just Google it

Tulip bouquet

"How to cure floppy tulip syndrome"

When is Hitler’s birthday? How do I fold a palm into a cross? Why do people hold up signs reading John 3:16 in the end zone?  Where are olives grown?  Who is the CEO of WordPress?

These are just a few of the recent Google searches, aka “google its” that have been in my Google search box. What did we do before Google, or in general, before we had information at our fingertips on the internet, that we could search in minutes, using a choice of search engines? The answer to that is a great story that people my age and older like  to tell: gathering  the kids around and regaling them with how it was “in the olden days.”

Back in the old days, when I was a kid, we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have computers, and hey, some people even think I grew up before electricity. Truth be told, we did have electricity then, but we had to go out and crank up our windmills to get it. Anyway, if we wanted to know something that we didn’t know the answer to, we’d a) look in a book or encyclopedia or b) ask someone. Looking in a reference tome involved hitching up the horse and buggy and driving into town to the library, so of course this was not always possible. If your burning question about Hitler’s birthday hits you at 2 AM, you’re not going to “chase to town” (as my parents liked to call it) then. So asking someone, provided there was someone around, was always easier, though not necessarily better. One could ask a teacher, librarian, physician, mechanic;  someone who by their profession or training, might have a modicum of knowledge on your subject in question. My experience as a child was that most people around me chose to ask someone instead of checking a reference text, and it was invariably someone who had no qualifications whatsoever to give advice on said question. In fact, it seemed that the more underqualified they were to answer, the more import their answer held.

My dad’s favorite persons whom he considered to be fonts of knowledge were: anyone who was an American Legion buddy; anyone with whom he worked, and anyone who was a relative of the former. So if he needed a plumber, he’d ask his legion buddies, and if none of them was a plumber or knew a plumber, at least they always had a cousin or brother-in-law who wasn’t really a plumber, but owned two pipe wrenches and “did it on the side.” If Daddy came home from the doctor with a new medication, he’d never ask the doctor for information about it. Instead, The National Enquirer was the source of all medical information, or the folks at work, because they all lived in a bigger city than he did, so therefore were more worldly and experienced in such matters. Asking someone at work for directions to my nursing school interview is  how we ended up 100 blocks away in the bad part of town when he drove me there. Buy a map? Of course not. You just ask people around you until you find someone who professes to know.

Mom had fewer reference sources since she did not belong to any fraternal organizations. Her font of knowledge tended to be her hair dresser. Yes, the same woman who turned us into poodles groomed with a hot glue gun  turned out to be the expert on just about everything.

After growing up with years and years of receiving bad, bad information from others, you might understand why today I’m a big fan of Google. It rarely lets me down, and if the answers I receive seem spurious, shallow or incomplete, I’m smart enough to know how to look elsewhere.

 If I want to google something, I type in exactly what I want to know, as if I were talking to a person. “How do I fold a palm to make a cross?” got me precisely what I needed this past Palm Sunday. My husband, the logical, pragmatic computer programmer that he is, finds this infuriating. He knows the computer is a machine and unable to interpret idiomatic expressions. He tries to turn every search into a broken English query such as “palm and fold and  cross” and is frustrated and amazed when I get better results with my colloquial queries.

Perhaps another reason I’m fond of Google is that Google knows me. Want to find my blog? Just type “huffygirl” or “huffygirl’s blog” into a Google search, and there I am! And at least once a day, just about every day of the year, Google helps people worldwide answer the burning question of “how to stop tulips from flopping over in a vase?” by directing them to me, who at least in Google’s estimation, is the foremost living expert on this subject. Thanks Google!

 © Huffygirl


26 thoughts on “Just Google it

  1. No wonder the Internet is making a big gap between people these days. TIME awards Zuckerberg for connecting us, I bet those TIME guys really know that these social networking sites are actually making us unsocial beings.

    • Yes, it’s very easy to while away hours on FB instead of interacting with people in person. Although, if it weren’t for the internet, we wouldn’t be reading each other’s blogs! 🙂 So the internet is useful indeed, but in moderate doses, and should not be used at the expense of excluding real social interactions with those around us.

    • Between Google and the encyclopedia, you should be all set then. And remember, you can always ask your hair stylist or your buddies at work too!

      Just peeked at your blog – enjoyed your tulip photos. Thanks for stoppping by.

  2. I LOVE this post! The information gathering by parents is awesome!
    Think of the information we got from my best friend’s dad, the mechanic and all the grease monkeys that worked for him. My grandfather’s truck-driving buddies. Actually, many of them were very informed because during slow periods, they avidly read the newspaper every day!


    • Thanks Sandi. Funny thing – at the time at first I didn’t question the wisdom of just asking others. Then as I grew older and saw more and more snafus that occured based on the advice of my parent’s friends, I started to question it. But they never really did – they counted on the wisdom of their friends.

  3. I remember getting the Golden Book encyclopedias at the store each week (20 volumes?) I loved to look at the pictures and get short answers. We had another big set of encyclopedias for school work but i loved just to page through the Golden Books!

  4. I remember when my parents splurged on a set of encyclopedias when I was in 3rd grade. They even got the bookcase and subscribed to the general and science updates for years. Now, all that’s available free online, with pictures and videos. It’s pretty incredible, if you think about it.

    • It is incredible. Our beloved encyclopedias are becoming anachronisms. And remember how parents sacrificed to get those encyclopedia sets, to give their kids the best opportunities? We had a whole set of Time Life how to books – nice to look at but seem pretty silly now.

  5. I had the Funk & Wagnalls set of encyclopedias that mom collected week by week in the grocery store for a quarter each, or something like that. There’s a campfire story for you. Right up there with how our plates and glasses were acquired one by one with the weekly fill-up at the gas station. 😉

    As a lover of research and someone who spent tons of time in the library in the old days, I am in awe of the internet.

    • I remember those days of buying the weekly featured item at the gas station or the grocery store too. And did you ever have the box of detergent with a free towel inside?

      • Maybe you’re not old enough for that one. It didn’t stay around very long. It was a big box of some brand of detergent that no longer exists – but we convinced Mom to try it because you got a FREE TOWEL inside. It was the thinnest, cheapest towel you’ve ever seen – it had to be to fit inside the box and still have room for detergent. The commercials made it look so good – pulling a big fluffy towel out of the top of the box. Prizes in cereal boxes were a better deal – they were always tacky and never worked right, but they were supposed to be like that!

  6. Loved this post! I ask Google questions, too, and get great results. Nothing seems way off base; Google figures out what I’m looking for. My husband just had this same conversation about how today’s kids can’t fathom the world we grew up in. No cell phone? OMG!

  7. I do my Google searches the same way you do – they work great. When I was a kid, I spent my days reading through our set of World Book Encyclopedia, which I guess was as close as I could get to a google search at the time. I do love the internet. I get close to hyperventilation when I think about what it would be like if we had to go back to “the old days.”

    • Yes, I can’t really go back either. Have you read the book “The Know-it-all” by AJ Jacobs? He bought his very own set of encyclopedias and read all the volumes from A to Z, then wrote a hilarious book about it. So at least someone is still getting some use from them.

  8. Some times the Google search gives me too much information. There are so many options I don’t know which one to pick. Then when I select a few options I get the same information which is usually on a cursory level. If I really want to go in depth on something I can’t seem to find the right link. Maybe it’s because I’m too logical. But I do have to admit, it beats what we used to have.

  9. google is great! and a great post! thanks.

    google makes us “look knowledgable” on any subject in minutes. Also, in the process, turning us into the most shallow readers in the history. almost no one is interested in the “whole story”. We know more about a lot of things and less about each one of those things…

    Is it good? is it bad? i dont know. i guess i am still hooked to old school stuff like the smell from the pages of an old book borrowed from the public library…

    ah, a hopelessly romantic reader´s rant.


    • You’ve distilled the pros and cons of Google into a couple sentences. Of course one can always read more once you get the bullet from Google, but sometimes all you need is the Readers’ Digest version. (Does any one even understand that expression any more? Probably a modern replacement would be “…the Wikipedia version.”) 😉

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