I was sitting in a meeting at work recently and somehow we started talking about ventriloquism. The speech pathologist in the group was wondering how one voices the bilabial consonants without moving one’s lips. For us laypeople, bilabial consonants are sounds that you make with both lips, like <p> and <b>. It was a good question. The best answer we could come up with was “Google it!”
Which made me think, where in the world would we be without Google? I’ll tell you where we’d be, because I was there most of my life. We’d be looking up stuff in encyclopedias. Thank goodness for Google! Encyclopedias are big, heavy, and hard to keep updated. Kids today have no idea how lucky they are to have limitless information from around the world available to them, literally at their fingertips.
Why, back in my day we had to trudge through shag carpeting to pick out an encyclopedia. You wanted to look up “ventriloquism”? You had to grab the “v” encyclopedia. Then it may reference “bilabial consonants”. What in the world are those? You’d have to roll yourself off your futon to get up and find the “b” encyclopedia. Or maybe a dictionary. By the time you were done with your “research” you had about 4 or 5 giant tomes around you and still didn’t know much more than you started with.
Thank goodness for Google. It truly is a life changer. I am glad that my children have such a wealth of information available to them at all times. If someone would have told me to “Google it” in elementary school, I would have thought they were talking gibberish. To my kids, “Google it” is just a normal part of their everyday vocabulary. Sometimes, however, Google is not so great. Sometimes there is just too much information that I don’t want my children to have access to.
Like the time when my son was 8 and came into the bathroom where I was getting ready for work and saw my tub of Equate brand medicated pads.
He asked “Mom, what are medicated pads?”
I tried to change the subject. “Just grown up stuff. Why don’t you go down and get some breakfast?”
He looked at me like I had lost my mind. “I eat breakfast at school. I have every day for the last three years.”
Then he picked up the tub of Equate brand medicated pads and read it.
“Mom, what are hem-er-hoids?”
“Buddy, I don’t know. Can you go get your backpack ready and get your shoes on?” I asked, almost frantically.
“If you don’t tell me, I’ll just Google it,” he replied.
My mind flashed over the many horrifying, gruesome images of hemorrhoids that he could possibly view on Google.
“Okay, okay, I’ll tell you. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that can come out of your anus.”
I wish I could have taken a picture at that moment. His horrified expression was priceless.
“You mean veins come out of your butt hole?”
“Yes, that is what I mean.”
“Does it hurt?”
“It isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world.”
“It only happens to girls right?”
“No, it can happen to boys and girls.”
“What?!?!!? Will I get hem-er-hoids?”
“I hope not!” I said.
“Why do you have hem-er-hoids?”
“Well, because I carried you and your sister and brother in my tummy for a long time which put pressure on my veins and now I am more likely to get them.”
Then he was relieved. “Oh, well I am not going to be pregnant so I don’t have to worry about that!”
Whew. Dodged a bullet there. Until the day, not much later, that he was curious about how, exactly, women get pregnant and again threatened to google the info until I frantically explained those gory details before he got the chance.
Now my daughter is 8 years old. She came home from school recently very upset.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I was googling something for a project and it brought up a bunch of inappropriate pictures and I’m afraid I’m going to get in trouble.” She was almost in tears.
“What were you looking up?”
“We were trying to find pictures of “groups of things."
I was confused. “So what did you type in?”
My mind was racing with what in the world she could have seen typing in “group pictures”. I came up blank. Then a lightbulb went off.
“Honey, how did you spell group?”
Oh, for the love.
Google is great. Until it is not.