The world outside is so big
But it’s safe in my domain
Because to you
I’m just a number
And a clever screen name *


Alcoholics have their booze, smokers have their cigarettes, crackheads have their . . . crack. As an editor, trivia buff, curious human, and language snob with a constant need to prove people wrong, I have Google. I guess you could say that Google is my crack. I rely on it totally: for work, for fun, for blogging, and to satisfy my all-encompassing desire to know everything, even if my research leads me to sites whose legitimacy is extremely questionable. Often, when asked to cite my sources, I have to shrug and answer, simply, “The Internet people.” But if you’re smart and willing to dig around, you can usually separate the crap from the real stuff. Remember when you had to actually look through a book? Or go to a library? And what about microfilm—not to mention microfiche? Whatever the hell that is. No, Google is a lifesaver in so many ways.

For instance, Dave recently challenged me to disprove his theory that canned baked beans had to be heated to the boiling point to obliterate chances of botulism. I disagreed. “Google it!” he dared me.

“Oh, I will take that dare.” I marched into the office, keywords a’blazing.

I e-mailed him my results, with such subject headings as “Baked Beans Don’t Need Heating” and “Only Fools Think You Have to Heat Baked Beans.” I also went low-tech by placing a Post-it note on the can itself with an arrow pointing to the directions. But it was the Google results that forced Dave to recapitulate and eat the damn microwaved beans already.

Google gives in so many ways. If not for Google, how would anyone searching for “Foods that you don’t have to chew” have found my goiter post? Type in “big ass” and you get to read my thoughts on thongs. I’m not exactly sure where the person searching for “What did JD name his chest hair” ended up, but I’m thankful that whoever had to find “you need room for your big head don’t you don’t you” ended up at my main page.

My point is, Google’s search engine rocks. But my reliance on Google may have reached psychologically damaging depths. I think Google broke my brain.

The other day, I was admiring our Christmas ornaments. I mentioned the precious egg ornaments handmade by my Aunt Cora. We have two, a baby dressed like a lamb and a howling dog.

But there were others that I vaguely remember from my childhood that didn’t survive the years of packing and unpacking and cats climbing the Christmas tree. There was a red egg with an angel, but what about the others? A normal person might ask a family member. But not me.

My first instinct was to look it up on Google. I swear, in my search engine-addled brain there appeared the words “aunt + cora + egg + ornaments,” as if my own family memories were somehow archived on the Internet and searchable by keywords. The thought lasted only a split-second, but the stupidness will linger on forever. It was the same weird, disjointed sensation I get when I try to fast-forward through a real-time TV show.

Despite my return to sanity, I felt compelled to search for “aunt + cora + egg + ornaments.” I don’t know whether I was relieved or disappointed to find nothing matching the above pictures.

But wouldn’t it have been awesome if those egg ornaments had appeared in the search results? Who knows, maybe Aunt Cora took pictures, and some obscure relative saved them and posted them online. It’s not impossible. I’ll keep searching. I’ll never stop believing that Google can find anything and everything.

In the meantime:

This last link doesn’t give the answer, but if you scroll down, you’ll find out which of my posts matched the keywords.

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of Bad Religion

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16 Responses to “I Have Google-Induced Brain Damage”

  1. 1 Jeff

    It’s hard to imagine life today without search engines.

    Don’t know why, but I still use Yahoo as my default search for most things, but go straight to Google for address look-ups. Must be because Yahoo is prettier or something.

  2. 2 Kathy

    I absolutely remember microfilm! I don’t know how many hours I spent alone in a library viewing roll after roll of publications looking for an articles. Kids these days have NO idea how easy they have it. Of course, they are sometimes too quick to take whatever Google spits back at them without considering sources.

    As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with Google. I hate them for what they did with Blogger, but I love them for their search engine. I could barely do my job without it. Just an hour ago, I had to look up a particular software error code to see what I could find. Entered the error code and Bam! Answer in two seconds.

    “The Internet people” are great!

    Kathy’s last blog post..It’s a Conspiracy, I Tell You

  3. 3 JD

    Jeff: I remember when I used to use “Ask Jeeves” (now just called “Ask”) because you could form your search in a question. Of course, it worked just like every other search engine, but it seemed so cool at the time. I’m getting an actual answer to my question! From a butler!

    Kathy: Kids these days, indeed! And it is scary to think of tomorrow’s leaders relying on some of the “information” Google supplies so easily.

    I know how you feel about Google. I changed “Google rocks” to “Google’s search engine rocks” JUST for you!

    JD’s last blog post..I Have Google-Induced Brain Damage so you don’t have to

  4. 4 Kathy

    JD — Just looked at that site “If you can’t find it on Google”. That’s so interesting. I’m into researching things for other people, so I can see spending some time there trying to help them out. Thanks for posting it. I’ve never heard of it before!

    Kathy’s last blog post..I’m Dying to Get Lost Again

  5. 5 JD

    Kathy: Honestly, I had never heard of it either. I came across it looking for good links for this post. It is way cool.

    JD’s last blog post..I Have Google-Induced Brain Damage so you don’t have to

  6. 6 Natasha

    I smiled as I read your post because I also think I have Google Induced Brain Damage… As a matter of fact my ability to find the answer to just about any question has made me sort of a celebrity amongst friends… they think my intelligence level is way above average!! I try to tell them the truth, but most of them don’t get it.. Ah well.. :)

    Natasha’s last blog post..My First Online Music Video!

  7. 7 Ernie

    I would like to thank you for shooting-up with The Google so that I wouldn’t have to. I’m trying to wean myself off of it, but Searchalot is a rather poor substitute.

    Ernie’s last blog post..An ERNIE By Any Other Name

  8. 8 JD

    Natasha: Hey, welcome! That’s funny–people think the same of me. I do think there’s a knack to knowing which keywords to use for the quickest results and also weeding through the junky sites. But, still, yeah. It’s not me coming up with this information!

    Everyone, check out Natasha’s music video in the link beneath her comment. She is GREAT!

    Ernie: The Google is a harsh master, one that I’ve tried to quit with no luck. There really is no substitute, tho I’ve heard some speak of The Yahoo with great reverence.

    JD’s last blog post..I Have Google-Induced Brain Damage so you don’t have to

  9. 9 DiamondVVV1

    I’m so glad you checked out the baked beans and botulism issue for me …. one of those burning questions that we love Google for. Love your site and your sense of humour …. I’ve bookmarked you for further giggles!

    DiamondVVV1′s last blog post..The Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua

  10. 10 Amy

    How about MS Office induced?
    While trying to add documents to a 3 ring binder the rings popped open and a reems-worth of paper cascaded out everywhere. All I thought was ctrl+z.
    My episode was not google induced, but I totally understand.

  11. 11 JD

    DiamondVVV1: Thanks so much for stopping by . . . oh, oh, oh! You’re the one with the coconut tree on fire! Everyone, read Diamond’s post and check out the awesome pictures. Anyway, Diamond–you can rely on me to put to rest any botulism/baked bean fears you may have.

    Amy: I swear: While I was reading your comment, I thought it was spam–it just didn’t make sense. That is so funny. I think that’s an even weirder leap than trying to Google childhood memories. Hilarious! Um…does it work?

    JD’s last blog post..I Have Google-Induced Brain Damage so you don’t have to

  12. 12 Stephanie Barr

    I still use Altavista, one of seven people worldwide. I know how the search engine works, though, so it works for me. I get the concept because I love to go trolling.

    Stephanie Barr’s last blog post..What do you know about tin whiskers?

  13. 13 pet snakes

    I’d be entirely lost without the ability to use google and other search engine (but mostly google) to track down and find the information that I need. Like you I find it almost unbelievable that there was a time when I actually used books and library’s (not to mention talking to real people) to find what I needed to know.

    But with all the information at my fingertips I can’t help but wonder if I’ve become dumber for the simple fact that in order to access it I have to engage in almost zero exercise. At least with books you’d have to do some reading to get what you need. Now with search engines you can narrow down to the exact phrase you are looking for.

  14. 14 sandrar

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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