The Power of Slow

Embracing time so you have more of it

How Our Lives Have Become Google-ized

Google has shaped our worldview in more ways than we realize.

There is more to life than convenience and quick answers. Sometimes the slow route to knowledge is more interesting. We hardly ever ask strangers the way anymore, reducing our opportunity for chance encounters with people.

Yet Google would have us believe—with its heart-warming television commercials—that the world is just a click away. And every answer to every question, too.

Google is indeed a great service. Thanks to the search engine, I was able to consolidate my vacation time by spending it exactly as I wanted to. With a quick search, we were able to find restaurants, parks, and even a massage place in just a few minutes. With the help of our iPhone navigation system we quickly found what we were looking for. It saved us time and gas trying to find these places.

But technology is not infallible. Even our GPS wasn't aware of changes in the road system. Sometimes we had to take a right instead of following the insistent voice of our device that we should turn left.

Nobody's perfect. Not even Siri.

Google has set a new pace to modern life. We now expect to know virtually everything. We can Google-sleuth to find information based on even tiny bits of information—online reviews tell us whether that movie or doctor's office is worth a visit. And we tend to believe total strangers' opinions rather than trying things out for ourselves. Google has shaped our world in ways we have yet to realize.

The service itself continues to change at a quick clip too. Take Google Maps, for instance. Just a few weeks ago, it still had that grey-green satellite view of the world. Today, it's sexier, pointing to exact streetcar routes and even the intervals within which they depart and arrive.

Last year Google purchased an app that used to cost $250 to use. Now it costs $30,000.

I don't call that progress. I call that extortion.

Love it or hate it: Google has us by the gaggle. It is up to us as to whether we choose to live life according to its algorithm or our own biorhythm.

Maybe if we relinquish the need for omniscience, we will actually open our eyes to what is before us instead of following the commands of our gadgets that often lead us astray. Taking the slow road sometimes is a task worth considering, if only for a moment.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.

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