In Google We Trust

Just Google it. We all do it. And boy does it deliver. But I can get out of hand with it. You know, search for the meaning of life and the holy grail and the proof that I am worthy with a few clicks of the keyboard. It’s possible that due to growing up in the trenches of insecurity and wearing wounds of codependency shrapnel, I am still looking to be told who I am. I am looking for something to make my decisions for me, because something must know better and I know nothing. Maybe I am turning to Google to answer all of my questions because I still have battle scars from growing up in a family affected by alcoholism and need a sense of ground beneath my feet vis-a-vis a blog post from 2010. Or perhaps we all do this, because we are all looking for answers, and in this modern world of Instant Gratification (IG) we can actually get some answers fast rather than pausing and getting quiet and listening to our insides or (gasp!) settling into the vast and formidable unknown. Rather than wait for a relationship to unfold and simply, imperfectly be, I want to know if it’s right. Rather than trust the signals of my body, I want the internet to tell me that gluten is poisoning my stomach and mind. Yes, I can search and search to be told some sort of truth about romance, health, love, sex, family, recovery, society, etc. – I’ve just grown wary that I actually want them, and that they are ever complete truth. The internet is full of opinions (including this one), and they may all bear glimmers of truth and fact and reality here and there, but I keep coming back to letting go and letting life unfold and living in the not-knowing far better. Not easier. But better.

Here are just some of the questions I have Googled over the past few years, even dating back to pre-Google (in high school when I used to search for diet plans and the correct amount of calories to eat and still lose weight.)

  1. Why do I prefer to be alone?
  2. How likely is it that I am pregnant from using the pullout/rhythm method?
  3. How long will it take to get over my ex who I dated for 14 months?
  4. What foods to avoid if I have acne
  5. Teaching is sucking the life out of me what should I do
  6. Will my life change when I turn 30?
  7. Cambodia or Vietnam on my travels?
  8. Am I a bad person for sometimes hating my parents?
  9. Should I keep dating this guy even though there is no spark?
  10. Should I keep dating this guy even though there are red flags?
  11. I feel guilty for being white
  12. I work with a bunch of narcissists
  13. I work with a bunch of codependents
  14. I feel jealous of my beautiful coworker
  15. I hate work and want to die and will never be happy
  16. Being a vegan is stupid?
  17. I feel like privileged people have made dieting their Higher Power
  18. How come he never asks me any questions about my life?
  19. Am I a bad person for looking at porn?
  20. Am I a bad person for not being offended by offensive comedians?

You get the idea. Granted, none of these questions are wrong or insane or even all that unique – we all have these questions and feelings in one form or another and at various points in our lives… but what did people do before there was Google? You couldn’t look such specifics up in the Encyclopedia. Perhaps they relied on faith or a parent or a doctor or some sort of mentor, or perhaps they didn’t think so much because they knew there was no bullet proof response that would offer solace or relief. Perhaps the days before IG allowed people the forced luxury to be more comfortable in the murky gray. They just had to be. (This is why mindfulness meditation classes have become so popular – we need to literally be taught how to accept what is and what is right now, in a sense, to not know what is coming.) Today, I have to train myself to not immediately race to Google or at the very least a friend who might be giving me all kinds of shitty advice. Not that any of this is inherently bad, and it certainly isn’t bad to seek out a confidant to possibly shed some light on our burning questions, but often these confidants are just as lost and muddled (and probably got their advice from Google.) I know that I can sometimes be too quick to believe that others know better than I or hold the answers I so desperately seek.

Or maybe that is it. Some of us are seekers and desire to have answers, to have clarity, the conviction that we are okay, doing the right thing, on the healthiest path. And others are finders and have an easier time letting answers come naturally, if at all. They think less about what it all means and go about their business. (How?!) I like being a seeker, and I have always been after the deeper meaning, the subtext, the guy behind the guy, but often the lesson for me is wait. Pause. Stand still. Listen. And the answers come slowly. Through time and experience. If they are even answers at all. A huge part of my experience of getting more comfortable at life was letting go of seeing the world as a great game of dualities and I had to stay on the right side. As Shakespeare wrote, “nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Googling is fine, and it has really helped me plan lessons as a teacher and find the closest moderately priced restaurant, and in all seriousness, it has directed me toward many books, articles, and blogs that have offered insight and healing, but it cannot stand as the be all, end all answerer of my questions. And I know I am not the only one Googling away with a bunch of questions that I want answers to now … how? I just Googled it, and it told me.

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