This is a guest post from my good friend Tim, who is a regular commenter on this blog and is in the process of launching a Houston-based daily-deal site called YourYoupon.
I am a frequent commenter on Adam’s blog, beyond the blog we’ve become good friends over the last few years and enjoy sharing business stories and other lifestyle/technology concepts we come across. As the story I’m about to share with you unfolded Adam was the first person I knew I was going to tell and he suggested a guest post for his blog, which leads us to the story.
I was out to dinner with some friends a little over a week ago, two married couples and I. I won’t say that the two husbands (we’ll call them John and Steve) don’t like each other but they are at odds with each other, in particular with certain topics. One of these topics is living through search engines, namely Google. John is a self proclaimed Googleholic he will not do anything, buy anything or go anyplace without Googling it first. Steve uses Google for researching, for example looking into buying a new cell phone, but doesn’t like it for reviews or let it influence him too much. He argues, and this is where it gets interesting, that John is no longer capable of thinking for himself, his statements are derived from Google, his opinion is no longer his opinion, it is what he reads from Google. Additionally, Steve feels that you are depriving yourself of experiencing life through heavy Google usage, a restaurant may have a bad review or two and may be an outstanding place to eat.
This really got me thinking, I am a heavy Google user, in addition to averaging 34.2 Google searches per day(Google tracks this for you, in case you didn’t know) I’m using no less than 21 Google Products on my Google Account Page. A lot of my searching is because I recently moved over 750 miles from my home town/state and am learning a lot about my new area, Google has made this experience much easier. I’m not making excuses for my usage but I own two businesses, one of which is a web business and work almost exclusively through my computer/from home, a lot of my searching is for work. That is not the case for John, he is a blue color worker and that means he’s away from the ability to search for at least 8 hours a day.
The real question is, how much Google searching is too much? Are we living better quality lives because we don’t need to have an experience to gain the knowledge from others? This reminds me a book by Barry Schwartz called The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less only with a Google twist. If we’re not to the point that we are virtually experiencing life, we are approaching it very rapidly – be warned!
Adam here: my thoughts are that this is a REALLY interesting topic. I too have a Google addiction, but I also don’t really want to know everything about everything I’m just about to do. It’s kind of why I personally don’t like the concept of online dating. It turns something that is adventurous and curious into a process that’s kind of like buying a car. At some point you just have to get out there and live. I also think that, in a way, the wealth of information hinders us from doing things. In particular, starting a business. There’s so much info out there that you can get sucked in to thinking you need to do 50 things before you can even consider starting a company, when almost none of that is as important as simply meeting a need that people are willing to pay for. On a more personal level, I try to use my Googling to my advantage when traveling. Often times my girlfriend and I will hop in the car and take a day trip to a small town in Massachusetts or Vermont on a whim because we heard it was a cool place, with no more info than the town name to throw into our GPS. We explore the town and sometimes never need to use the technology available to us. But by knowing that we have smart phones at our disposal, we don’t have to plan as much. If we get lost, we use the GPS and/or our phones. If we can’t find a place to eat, we can Google it. The same technology that can cripple you can also be used to your advantage, depending on how you approach it.