Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Whatever happened to my college roommate...and other information I get from Google

Was the man sitting next to me on the plane for real? What’s the answer to 23 Across, six letters? Which airlines fly to Myanmar? Where is Myanmar? Do we need shots? Which is the quietest dishwasher? Should I be worrying about an irregularly shaped mole? How is Hillary doing in the polls? Who was the art director on “Love Story”? Which car gets the best gas mileage? What did we do before Google? Please, may I never have to choose between my family and my search engine!

Most of my life was pre-Google. Somehow I managed, as unlikely as that seems. Even if my memory was more reliable, I was no Google. Sure, I remembered a few terms from biology – arthropod, hepatic duct, flagella - and I could get weather forecasts from TV, but I was hardly a destination spot on the information highway. Now you can ask me anything, the answer is seconds away. Google has narrowed the gap between me and The Book of Knowledge.

Google rendered useless almost everything I’d ever relied on: my dictionary, thesaurus, cookbooks, travel agent, Zagat and doctors. I don't even fire off questions to my husband the way I used to. I’m now a one-woman e-band, chasing down synonyms, lost friends, pasta recipes, hotels and diagnoses online. For a change of pace, I can move to Google Earth and check on the perennials I planted at the house we once leased. From what I see, the garden and the couple are thriving. I’ve never caught either sneaking out for a clandestine affair. I’m wondering if private investigators are losing work because of Google Earth. How far will this go? Might they be Beta testing a virtual husband?