Information Overload and the Dangers of Them Thar Interwebs (Uxbridge Cosmos Mar. 2013)

If you’ve been reading your Cosmopolitan rag mags and you are up-to-date on all your talk show blather, then you’ll be familiar with the term “toxic friend.” As I understand it, a “toxic friend” is someone who you find yourself relying on time and time again for sound advice, support and a great time, but instead, you find yourself let down, freaked out, crapped upon and irrationally insecure.

Most articles or over-Botoxed guest therapists on daytime TV will tell you to let go or steer clear of these so-called “toxic friends.” If we have the courage, we follow that advice and are all the wiser and healthier for it. However, some of us – uh, so I’m told – are gluttons for punishment and keep returning to the fountain of hurt again and again like crazed maniacs.

I have a toxic friend. In the past, this friend has helped me research songs and plays, helped keep me in touch with family and long-lost friends, and has given me a wealth of knowledge with very little asked from me in return. But I’m now at a precipice of decision. Do I continue to let this friend disappoint, misinform and freak me out merely for the gift of endless information and entertainment that said friend provides on a daily basis? Or do I cut and run?
Many of you know my friend. In fact, you know my friend intimately (some of you, a lot more intimately that you’d like to admit.) This toxic friend of mine is Google. Though Google has soothed my troubled mind in desperate times of research and soul-sucking boredom, Google has also been, at times, the mastermind of my self-defeat and insomnia. But, the good thing is, I’m learning from my mistakes with Google. Let me impart some of my e-wisdom of when Google is your friend or enemy.

1. Need to know the due date of the much-anticipated royal baby? Google is your friend.
2. Need to know if you’ll be okay after eating that two-day-overdue yogurt at the back of your fridge? Google will help you write your will and last words, ‘cause you’re-a-gonna die for sure. Google is not your friend.
3. Need to know why Ivan was so “Terrible”? Google is your historical genius friend.
4. Need to know what people think of your favourite unconventional, slightly curvy celebrity? Google will present to you, from around the globe, comments made about her by the worst, most unintelligent, demented trolls ever to live in their grandma’s basement. Google is not your friend if you want to believe in humanity.
5. Need to know how to wear your fake eyelashes like Nicki Minaj? Google is your friend.
6. Need to know how much Nicki Minaj is paid to be a “music critic” on American Idol? Google will drive you to self-flagellation for the world is an unjust place. Google is not your friend.
7. Need to know what your unborn baby looks like at six months, floating around in your womb? Aaaaaw, Google is your sweet little fetus’ friend.
8. Need to know if this tiny ache in your growing baby bump is normal? Don’t. Even. Think. About. Googling… SERIOUSLY. Google is NOT a pregnant woman’s friend.
9. Need to know the benefits of coffee? Google is your friend.
10. Need to know the dangers of coffee? No you don’t. Google is not your friend. Coffee is.
11. Need to know who that guy is, with the face, and that voice, with the grrrrr, who’s in that movie… oh, it’s on the tip of your tongue?! Google is your awesome friend.
12. Need to know what comes up when you Google your own name? How about the girl in Louisiana with the same name who posts pictures of herself openly on Facebook from the last “Strippers n’ Shots” night out she had with her skanky friends? Or how about that picture of you from your fun-in-the-sun vacation 15 years ago after you had gained 25 pounds and thought, “who needs a well-documented bikini-clad holiday? THIS gal!” Google is not your friend.

So, you can see my dilemma. Google seems to have revolutionized the world, giving us humans the empowering feeling that we have infinite knowledge at our very fingertips. Information is power and satisfaction, but it can also lead to self-destruction.

In my tumultuous relationship with Google, there are two things that I have to keep in mind. First, I must remember NOT to believe every bit of crap I read on the Internet, for just about anything on them thar interwebs can be inputted by any depressed Spider Monkey with a keyboard. Secondly, in using Google, I have to moderate myself, like a wine-drunk with access to email. And so must you. The next time you’re desperate for a Google, sleep on it; ask a real, live breathing person for advice; call your mom; see your doctor; read a book (they’re those cardboard rectangles filled with paper holding up the coffee table.) If after trying all of these things, you still can’t find your answer, then – by all means – Google away. But please, please, for your own sanity, THINK before you Google. (Feel free to Google “toxic friend.”)

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