Every once and a while, my online friend, the one I've never met, but the one who shows me beauty in a land I once called home, says something on her blog and I immediately Google the phrase or thought. Yesterday it was 'red squirrel'. Apparently, they now have signs in Britain asking you to go SLOW for red squirrels. hmmmm...my mind went, as my fingers immediately opened a new Firefox tab, and went to The Google, a place as encroaching on our privacy as The NSA. Nuff said. I still wanted an answer as to why Britain slowed for red squirrels, not gray or black ones. Racial profiling? Probably not.
But I also started to ponder - When do we not immediately go to The Google when there is a question in our head or on our minds? Have a discussion at dinner? or with family? or a with spouse? and what is the final arbitrator? The Google. As soon as a question arises, out come the iPhones or other smart phones, and the issue is settled. Extra points for the one reaching the truth first!
But, remember the days when questions arose and you ... you just wondered? You could spend hours just thinking about the idea, the question, and just wonder because in many or even most cases, there was no easy way to answer the question. Parents or siblings or spouses might know it but more likely they might not. Rarely could it be answered immediately.
Perhaps a look at the ubiquitous Encyclopedia Britannica that resided prominently in my house while I grew up would have the answer. If the answer wasn't solvable there, there was no option to try another search response. Paper doesn't understand the Boolean Search concept. You had to think how to rephrase that question or again..just wonder. Perhaps a trip to the library might solve the issue, if you remembered the question or considered it important enough to make a trip to the library. Would the library be open? Could you phrase the question so that the librarian could help you fiddle through ponderous reference books or hunt through a paper card catalog. (And yes, damnation to those unspeakable souls who stole cards, rather than write down the reference numbers of many of the missing cards.) If you did find a card with a promising book, would it even be on the shelves? Did you even care anymore? So many blocks to immediate answers.
It's no wonder that in most cases, when a question like red squirrels in Britain came up, you wondered and then let the subject go into that limitless vat of unanswered questions. At some point in grade school, I had a question about the Great Wall of China. I asked my teacher who was stumped at by that question and so I put it on my mental list of things I would ask in heaven when I died. Today, I don't remember what the question was, but if I did, I'd check with The Google. Heaven is probably a place for better occupations but maybe not. I'll leave that one to just plain pondering.
Every now and then you see an article saying people - children especially - aren't as curious as they once were. Rubbish. Check how many Google searches each person makes in a day or even refers to sites like Pinterest or YouTube to SEE the answer to a question. Does having immediate answers make us less curious or are we now allowed to consider more questions because we get answers Right Now. While I don't have an answer to that, I suspect there are probably many studies out there I could reference by searching...you know where. Oh, and are you still wondering about those red squirrels that you should slow down for? and why only those? Well of course, The Google led me to Wikipedia who told me that the red squirrels in Britain are diminishing because of the introduction of the American Gray Squirrels into Britain and Europe. Perhaps I should Google Illegal Immigration of Rodents but most likely I won't. Sometimes, enough information is enough.
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