I Have Google-Induced Brain Damage

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