Almost instinctively when a question arises I head to the closest internet accessibility point and open up Google: the allmighty possessor of information. In a matter of seconds endless answers appear right there before my eyes. Utterly amazing when you think about it. We can ask literally any question and immediately get a multitude of answers from countless sources across the globe.
As an example let’s look at the latest internet searches on my phone, resulting from conversations with clients yesterday:
A pretty typical day in the life of a information junkie. I like to know things and I love gathering and storing information. One of the main roles I play, particularly in the workplace, is the “information guy” or the guy you ask so you don’t have to look it up yourself. Whether it’s who sings a certain 80’s song, what’s the breakdown on a new supplement or what happened on the latest episode of Duck Dynasty, I’m the guy people go to for answers. If I don’t know it, I can find it out very quickly. This is what people know and expect from me. One friend used to playfully say when a question arose, “just ask Kylepedia”.
And I absolutely love it.
But not too long ago I started to think about all my questions, answers and information searching. I, like many others out there, am endlessly pursuing the collection of information. Ask a question, find the answer and repeat. Over and over and over. The information keeps piling up. But does it do me any good to collect other people’s answers without really assessing if I even need that information or if it even applies to me? More importantly, is all that gathering of other people’s thoughts preventing me from thinking about things myself?
As humans, it seems we are constantly searching for answers, but what did we do before Google and all this information available immediately at the tip of our fingers? Not too long ago we had to look it up in an encyclopedia or textbook or went to the library if we had access and the motivation. If not, we would try to find an expert or someone smarter (or simply older) than us to see if they had the answer. And if none of these was available we did one of two things: tried to figure it out ourselves or forgot about it.
Questions worth answering got pursued and the rest got left alone. The good questions got more quality time and attention while the frivolous questions never amounted to much. This led to much better and more frequent original thought because we weren’t told the answer in a few minutes and we spent much less time chasing answers to questions that probably don’t matter.
Now we spend our time getting answers to questions that aren’t worth chasing. We are getting careless and a bit lazy with information. As a result, “answers” are getting passed on that are incorrect and illogical. We have become a society of quick information collectors and exchangers that isn’t stopping to think about the quality of what they are processing and proclaiming. When it comes to health, wellness and the human condition this problem is taking on disastrous proportions.
Be your own Google
Instead of using Google to answer your next question about health/wellness/fitness/evolution/diet (or anything else that doesn’t have a pretty simple answer), try to figure it out yourself. How would you answer this question if you had no way of looking it up? How would that change how you look at things and how you assign importance to things? For example:
“Is _____ food bad for you?”
Give it some thought before you look it up. What do you think the answer is? Draw upon your experience, education and preferences. Is this question even important? If so, think it through. Let your brain get some exercise. We are all blessed with a pretty remarkable and skillful imformation processing organ that is becoming majorly under utilized. Using some critical thinking, logic and common sense goes a long way, particularly when it comes to health. You’ll likely find the answers you come up with will be much better suited to your situation than what you can find on the Internet.
If you “Pre-Google” and can’t figure it out or need information that’s beyond your skillset, by all means feel free to look up your question to see what other people think. That’s certainly a legitimate and sensible practice. Just don’t spend your life looking up other people’s answers to your questions when you haven’t even given yourself the chance to think about it.
I want answers to my questions and to educate myself as bad as the next person (and probably more when it comes to health) but I’ve found the more I look outward for answers the more low quality, non-applicable, unthoughtful and blindly repetitive answers I get. The more look inward for answers the better quality, reliable, appropriate, thoughtful and original answers I often find.
When you Google, you get someone else’s answers. When you think, you get your own.
Thanks for reading, have a great Google free day!