culture & community humour social media & technology

Google-Me This (or: How a Transitive Verb Helps Keep Me Sane)

by JoAnna — September 23, 2014

I have to admit, I chuckled my way through Bridget’s post on saving her Apple iPhone from the seventh circle of technological-hell. I did so because I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there, there being a place where our smart-ass devices fail us or we fail them. Those gut wrenching moments where time slows to a crawl (yeah, kind of like in the Matrix) and a catastrophic event unfolds before your very eyes. I’m talking about the bolt of recognition after seeing your mobile phone clattering against the window of the washing machine or your newfound ability to put into words the way an iPad disappears into a foaming froth of bath bubbles (note: it’s very similar to the way a plane leaves the sunlight behind to breach the cloud cover as it comes in for landing) or how you’re able to watch in awe as Newton’s first law takes effect with a 5-foot-something free fall of your laptop/camera/phone/glass/other delicate object as it collides with the floor.


At least this one was rather sensical...

At least this one was rather sensical…

I’m impressed with the way Bridget so coolly and calmly handled her iPod situation because I don’t think I’d be so graceful. Part of my reaction would have been to send a panicked email, terse in tone and carefully crafted to avoid the use of YELLING CAPITALS. That action would have been followed up with a call to some 1-800-number where I remain infinitely on hold–and listening to the most irritating elevator music imaginable–until someone who knows nothing about the issue I’m about to present finally comes on the line only to tell me, within the first 20 seconds of our conversation, they are unable to help me.

Those steps are part of my traditional action plan, usually the first two on the list; yet, as long as the situation isn’t dire (as in: someone’s life isn’t on the line) I’ll tend to add a third step to my emergency response, which involves a good half hour or more of online consultation (crowdsourcing if you will) with my dear friend Google.

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If your Mac is talking to you I think it’s time to seek offline assistance.

I’ve been googling for years now and am thoroughly amused the term (along with google and googleable) can be found in the dictionary, often classified as a verb; however, nomenclature aside, I engage in googling because it is an instantaneous form of gratification for whatever problem I may have. I’m also continually astounded–regardless of how of rare or unique I think my conundrum may be–that someone, somewhere, has beat me to the punch and already researched the very same topic I have placed inside the confines of that lean rectangular box.

Yes, turning to Google for a solution has yielded many spot-on results over the years. My Google searches have helped me source dairy-free substitutes so I can make my beloved apple crumble while also providing direction in how to remove a series of Burgundy-awful stains from a beloved cream shirt. Google has been instrumental in pointing me in the direction of the nearest subway stop, as well as detailing how to find the best airline fares or connecting me with a few million like-minded users who are as desperate to learn what “Timeout Error 30139829” means.

I don't know about you but I'm a touch concerned about the person with no skull.

While I feel nothing but sympathy for the people who have no friends I find myself more intrigued by those wandering among us…with no skull.

That said, along the way Google has also managed to present countless eye-rolling and amusing results as well, though they’re not so much results as they are Google’s attempts to try and preempt/predict what it is I may need.

And I love it when Google tries to figure out what I want.

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I mean, check out this search, do I want to find out what to do after I drop my iPhone in the toilet or do I want to make a statement about dropping my baby?

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Or what about the above image? Am I about to type in “I want to make a dairy free dessert” or was I moments away from reliving my primary school days with an 80s ballad. That I actually just listened to. Twice. (My God, whatever happened to Foreigner?)

"What happens if you eat mold?" What a brilliant question, indeed.

“What happens if you eat mold?” What a brilliant question, indeed.

The thing is, with Google trolling through the content of the WWW’s billions of users the possibilities only get better with every consequent search. In the example overhead I was curious about the repercussions of cancelling a certain phone plan but before I can even get there I am confronted with my own mortality should I drink too much water, ingest bleach or eat mold. I am also afforded countless pages of colourful descriptions should a woman ever get her hands on some of those little blue pills.

(Disclaimer: curiosity won out and I clicked on the viagra search result. It was interesting.)

Anyhow, the point of writing a post about such online absurdities is that I have found Google search to be more helpful than its developers could have (possibly) ever imagined. Even when a challenging situation arises and pushes me to the margins of my sanity and frustration Google sometimes has the capacity to bring me back from the edge.

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Because it’s all about perspective and if there’s someone out there who needs Google to help them score some crack I can’t be doing that poorly at all.

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