Google: Friend or Foe?

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Don’t we all love Google?!  I do.

Need information? Google it.

Need directions for how to do something? Google it.

Need driving directions, or a Mcdonalds near you?  It’s called Google.

Google has saved me trips to the library, given me encyclopedia information, and helped me with pronunciations and grammar. It’s helped me look up things I didn’t know without exposing my ignorance and embarrassing my kids. I’ve learned a lot because of Google. Thank you, Google!

‘Only problem is, now I find myself turning to Google instead of calling someone to get a question answered. Just google it, my kids tell me impatiently. Sometimes I do. It’s easier, quicker, and less hassle. (And sometimes the information can be false.)

‘Only problem is, by googling it, I don’t connect with friends or family like I could and like I used to in my before Google days.  Sometimes, I tend to believe it just because I researched it on Google – when I didn’t check the sources offered. Not every article Google finds for me to peruse has legitimate information.  Yet many folks believe anything they read because it was found on Google.

Who needs a friend when you’ve got Google, right?google

We’re missing something here, and it’s not Google. We are missing community, camaraderie, and connection.

When we just google it, we are voiding ourselves of relationships. Sometimes, if we’d pick up the phone and call someone, they could become our Google.

 

I have people like that in my life. The person who becomes my Google is based on the information I need. I remember the day I told my sister-in-law that she could not move to another community until she taught me how to make pie crusts.  True to her promise, a few days before their move, she came to my house and demonstrated how she makes her mean pie crust. I tried it. She watched me and told me what I was doing wrong. I practiced with her help. I am not a connoisseur of pie crusts!

Certainly, I could have found a you-tube tutorial. I could have read directions in one of my many cookbooks, or asked someone else. Yet, there was something significant about working on this together. I still struggle with pie crusts, but when I make them, I remember Regina and the time she took to come to my house and help me because she was not only my sister-in-law but my friend. While our kids played in the next room, we worked on the project together in my small kitchen.

 

 

That kitchen venture was better than any google.

I visited an aunt (a poet and a writer) one day to ask her about a specific poem she had written because I had been asked to share this poem in a program. Sitting there in her small kitchen, I watched as she fingered the pages of her book of poetry. She told me the story of the poem and how the emphasis of the opening line of each verse needed to be on a different word – and why. How much I would have missed if I had not stopped in and asked!

This is why women who don’t have the Internet or have limited access enjoy more camaraderie than those of us who pick up a smartphone or log into the Internet on the computer to get information. These women are connected through relationships instead of technology. I find this especially true in Anabaptist circles. Family and community are important, and many of us strive to keep it that way.

Certainly, I recognize that technology helps me connect better with my sisters in Nebraska and Canada and my kids in Colorado or California. When they’ve traveled to Indonesia or India and other countries of which I’ve never heard, we stay connected. I can follow a twelve-hour flight across the ocean and know exactly when one of my kids touches down in another country. I do like technology!

When we can mapquest or GPS our way around a new city, we don’t need to stop and ask anybody for directions. We don’t ask locals for the best places to eat when we’ve got Yelp.  We choose appliances or apparel based on reviews by unknown people who might be truthful or might not.

Because of Google, we miss the connectedness of relating to people.

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I recognize that, in some places, using Google might be safer than asking a stranger.  Yet maybe – just maybe it’s time we admit that sometimes we use Google just because we don’t want to connect with strangers.

Often times, we’d be enriched if we became connected to others. We would experience authentic local flair if we’d just stop and ask. There are stories behind recipes and quilts. There are stories behind photos in albums and spoon or postcard collections.  There are folks who can teach crocheting and soap making, quilting, embroidery and pottery making. There is so much more we can learn from our neighbors and communities than from Google. There are more people who can share those stories and explain how to do things than we can ask.

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There are older folks who can tell us stories of times before we were born. They have wisdom we could learn if we took the time to connect, ask, and listen. If only we’d step away from our phones and computers, and connect!

Google is an awesome tool, but that is all it is.

It is only a tool. It has a wealth of information (some of it untrue) and there’s much to be gained by accessing Google. It is void of relationship and connectedness. Use it to help your mind and to help yourself learn and grow.

But don’t ever forget to take the time to allow relationships to fill your soul.

 

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