Almost ten years ago, my critique group, (writers who edit each other’s works), had just finished reading a chapter in my manuscript. “You wrote that snakes sleep at night as part of the dialogue. Is that true?” a well-published author questioned.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “The words suited the situation, so I used them.”
“You can’t give misinformation especially in children’s’ books,” she warned. Her next words didn’t exist when I was teaching a few years prior. She said, “Google it.”
In the early 1990’s, the time the internet arrived in my home along with “Ask Jeeves,” a search engine. They foreshadowed ending the need for updating my World Book Encyclopedia with a costly year book. I grew up with encyclopedias at my fingertips, as did my sons. No need to head to the library for research. Google still eliminates my need to leave home for research.
Need a phone number, correct definitions or spelling or words, research on anyone or any event, self-diagnose illnesses, cure for gnats in your home, simply Google it. Voila! The answer appears on your screen. If I had realized how Google would eliminate privacy, I would not have written under a pen name. Google was in its infancy when I submitted my early works for publication. I wanted anonymity in case my work bombed—no need to ruin or mar my maiden or married names. Google has made anonymity a thing of the past.
All a search engine does is list information. Wise researches learn to check the source of the article or even the information. However, even knowing the source isn’t always helpful. If a restaurant only has one bad review, remember, no one can satisfy everyone all of the time. The infinite numbers of customers, patients, and/or clients who are satisfied rarely take the time to say so on various Google sites. I am beginning to think that there should be a limit to bad reviews remaining posted.
Once, I Googled my father’s name only to discover information on Ancestry Dot Com also is not one-hundred percent reliable. Their site had him born in Russia years before his real birth in Brooklyn. His marriage and death information was correct, which is why I knew the researcher never knew my father. After calling them, I learned that if someone posts false facts on a family tree, and then copyrights it through Ancestry Dot Com, the incorrect information shows up on a search.
Two map sites, Google Maps and Map Quest, do not always suggest the best routes. I had to go to Miami Beach recently. I am familiar with the area, but Googled the address I needed. Both sources advised me to exit the parkway too far north. I called a friend who gave me the correct exit from I-95. My GPS was wrong by one exit, not two like the Google sources were. All routes were technically correct, but mine was at least 15-minutes faster.
But most of the time, if I check the source especially with respect to researching the facts behind a docudrama or foods that can help or hurt certain physical conditions, Google has become my “right arm.” My husband gets annoyed with what he calls my Google addiction, especially if it ruins how a television series (he prerecorded) ends—which I recently did.
The day after that fiasco, I could not find my glasses. I asked him to help me. He did—kind of. “Google it,” he said, and left the room.
I guess there are some answers, right or wrong, not yet posted on Google.