Monday 10 March 2014

Google it: 20 questions Google can and can't answer

I went to the cemetery to eat my lunch. I always like it there. There are plenty of shady trees and places to sit. The human inhabitants of the place are uncharacteristically quiet. You can hear every bird and cricket. I ate my sandwich and read some of the gravestones – Mary, aged 42 years; Henry, aged 67 years; Margaret, aged 2 weeks; John, aged 6 years – and it got me thinking. Leaning back against a cool stone I thought to myself: 

I wonder how old I'll be when I die? 

By some automatic almost-biological instinct I noticed my hand reaching for the phone in my pocket. Can you believe it, reader? Faced with the burning riddle of my own mortality, my first instinct was to Google it. How old will I be when I die? That is how ingrained the habit has become of turning to Google whenever I want to know the answer to some minor factual question. Luckily I realised my mistake before I had typed the question. How embarrassing! I don't have to tell you that I felt pretty foolish. What would Google have thought of me if I entered a question like that? What would the dead think? (Blushing, I glanced around to check that none of them were looking.)

I'm grateful to be able to use a tool like Google. I rejoice in the ability to procure instant answers to some of life's niggling questions. It's a relief to be able to terminate one's curiosities within seconds of their gestation. No mistake about it, there are some questions for which Google proves to be an indispensable aid. These include, but are not limited to:

1. Which is cooler, Gangnam style or tattoos?
2. But will facial tattoos hurt?
3. Recipes for boiling an egg?
4. What is twerking and why does Miley Cyrus do it?
5. Best ways to cheat at scrabble?
6. How to lose weight and influence people?
7. Best kids iPad games about wanton killing?
8. Did the tv show Lost mean anything?
9. How do hippos mate?
10. Why are all Australians so lovable?
11. How to get a perfect body in 30 days?
12. Things to do while waiting for the next episode of True Detective?
13. I keep fainting while driving truck: IS THIS DANGEROUS?
14. Who is Justin Bieber?
15. Best pickup lines from bollywood movies?
16. Why are Christians on facebook always so angry?
17. Why do all my plants keep dying? Where can I buy better plants?
18. Help!!! What is the number for 911?
19. How to train labrador to stop chewing socks?
20. How to train children to behave as good as labrador?

But then there are other questions that Google cannot answer. These are things we have to carry around a little longer inside us. Such questions include, but are not limited to:

1. Why is music so beautiful?
2. Did I cry from pain when I was born or mostly from surprise?
3. Have I ever ruined anybody's life, and, if so, will I be forgiven?
4. What are the first things?
5. Am I a good father? If not, what does my life mean?
6. Why do I ask questions?
7. Who would I be if one day my brain was damaged so that I couldn't use language anymore? What would become of all my questions?
8. What is the truest thing I have ever done?
9. What is the truest thing anyone has ever done for me?
10. Am I lucky to be alive, or unlucky? Does it make any difference?
11. Will I ever be truly happy, and, if so, will I know it at the time?
12. Am I loved? (And how would I know for sure?)
13. Do I love? (And how would I know for sure?)
14. Was it my fault the bus driver was so rude to me? Am I an objectionable person?
15. Do I have a soul?
16. Why are human beings so cruel?
17. If something happened a very very very long time ago, is it still true?
18. Why are human beings so wonderful?
19. Is there a God, and, if so, where is the best place to hide?
20. How do I find the right questions? And who am I asking when I ask them?

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