I don’t remember when I started using the verb Google to mean “get an answer”. I’m sure I used it first in jest but somewhere along the way it just became part of my vocabulary. My friend Melanie and I were chatting this morning about this need we have to get instantaneous answers, goods and results. I wonder what this is doing to us.
I used to think it was so cool to call Time and Temperature to get the time and temperature. That was the only quick resource we had. And now I even wonder why we needed the time. Melanie reminded me that back then our clocks might lose time and we wouldn’t know it. There was no iPhone or computer to check our time against. Clocks weren’t automatically synchronized with the world clock. If the clock stopped working or slowed down, we had to make a phone call and reset it. We could also call information to get phone numbers. Now we just google them.
In Seattle in 1998, I discovered the internet. I had dial up so it was excruciatingly slow. And back then the websites that existed were horrible. Most of my friends didn’t trust it. They pledged never to buy anything off the internet. It was too unsafe and too dangerous.
I traveled a lot with my job and I discovered a web-based grocery service. It wasn’t like today’s delivery services. It was a real grocery in a warehouse, and I could order my groceries on Sunday night before I left town and schedule them to be delivered when I woke up Saturday morning. They would always give me a little gift like a flower or a sample of something, and the groceries arrived in a lovely brown paper bag at my front door. I’ve never been so enthralled by a service. Unfortunately that model didn’t last. Sometimes I fantasize about walking to my door and finding my lovely little grocery sack, and other times I engage Google to see if someone else has started one like it. But, alas, today everything is about speed and not good service.
I got my first Blackberry while I was in Memphis. I loved being able to surf the internet and check my emails from work. People used to call them Crackberries because they were so addictive. That’s laughable now because they were nowhere near as addictive as the smartphones of today. Ashok ate my beautiful brand new cherry red Blackberry, and I went in search of a cheap used phone as a punishment phone. The minute I opened my iPhone I knew I’d never go back to a Blackberry again. It was an immediate and steadfast love.
My job in Learning and Development is truly dependent on technology. Digital is literally the fabric of my life. It’s how I find answers, communicate with others, schedule and order my day and teach. I have to search my memory to remember what it was like to not have instantaneous answers to stupid and thought-provoking questions. In my efforts to stop using my phone so much, I often catch myself thinking a thought and immediately reaching for my phone to google feedback to my passing thought. I stop myself and say “you don’t have to know the answer to everything.” The void hurts.
What was it like to think a thought or wonder about something and NOT have immediate feedback. I think maybe it created more mystery. It was probably much less stressful to not know everything the minute it happens. It was definitely easier to be an expert as you explored the unknown in real life experiments that other people didn’t have time nor the interest to do. And if it wasn’t truly important, we probably just let it go unanswered. I don’t want to go back to long ass telephone cords that wrapped around the furniture or to typing essays on a typewriter. But I might like to have that sweet little grocery service, be unreachable when I’m not at home and to not have the answers to all the questions my mind brings up. It might even be nice to be in the dark about the time and temperature and just let the day go by as it will.
What is the population of New Orleans?
What would you like to go back to if you could? What questions do you wish went unanswered?