Google: There’s no escape from it. Today, you must google or be utterly marginalized, exiled to the peripheries of society like a pariah dog. And yet, who does not feel a profound sense of foolishness every time he googles, or advises someone else to google or pronounces the word, “google?” When I say “google,” I feel as if I should be wearing diapers, drooling and sucking my thumb.
Sometimes, instead of counting sheep, I conjugate the verb “to google.” Am I doomed to perish in a fit of googling? The next time I say “google,” I shall scream.
My chief complaint about the technological and digital revolutions is the infantile vocabulary it forces us to use. How can anyone go on about “apps” and “blogs” and “bytes” without feelings of stupidity, shame and disgust? How can anyone who proposes to “tweet” or “twitter” retain his dignity and self-respect? It sounds like the chirping of pea-brained sparrows. Either the inventors of these miraculous technologies are arrested in infancy themselves or they’re trying to drive their parents back to the helpless state of babyhood.
I understand that the young need to distinguish themselves from the dowdy, boring world of grownups, to shed the gray flannel suits, the button down collars and the wingtip shoes of the older generation and make a fetish of T-shirts, sneakers and jeans. I understand their contempt for companies with boring names such as Amalgamated Widgets, Consolidated Dingbats and Diversified Yardarms.
But what perverse impulse inspired Jerry Yang and David Filo to name their company “Yahoo!?” Yahoos are those foul, cunning, malicious, treacherous, revengeful, noisome, cowardly, insolent, abject, cruel creatures Gulliver encountered in his “Travels.” Is that what the creators of “Yahoo!” think of you and me?
I’m not sure people my age are equipped to survive in this world of hashtags, Tweetdecks, Hootsuite, Twitterfeed and Retweet. What is a Retweet? A Retweet, according to Twitter, is what you use “when you come across a Tweet that you just have to share.” Here’s what you do: You “hover over a Tweet, click the retweet link and the Tweet will then be forwarded to all your followers.” I have never come across a Tweet. I wouldn’t know what to do with it if I did. I have no “followers.” Nor to my knowledge do I have the ability to “hover.” O, brave new world. I feel as if I’m beginning to lose my grip.
Forty percent of Tweets amount to “pointless babble,” according to a study. But defenders of Twittering counter that what the study calls “pointless babble” is really “social grooming” or “peripheral awareness.” Got that? Or did you execute a “fail whale” (error message — hit computer with a baseball bat.) By the way, the first human beings to blog were cavemen. (Blogs were the cudgels they used to bash Gigabytes, the 70-ton carnivorous lizards that roamed the earth in those days.)
A former employee of Google is a “Xoogler.” “Deezer” is a French company that sells subscriptions to its digital music library. A “wiki” (according to Wikipedia) is a “piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit web page content using any web browser.” Is this what we were put on earth to do?
Stand in front of your bathroom mirror and say “wiki.” Can you take the person in the mirror seriously? Would you want to be seen in public with him? Would you, in the cloying jargon of our times, want to “friend” him? (One pundit confessed that “WikiLeaks” reminded him of the adults diapers, Depends.)
Where did I get this information? I googled it, of course. The past participle of google is gaggle …or is it gobble? With a gobble gobble here and a gobble gobble there. Texting becomes sexting and before you know it everyone is “gorgling” and “piffling.” An-yea-ooh-yea-eek-spay-igpay-atin-lay? That’s “Can you speak Pig Latin?” in Pig Latin, the high-tech language we spoke when I was young.
Tweet and Retweet went down to the river. Tweet fell in. Who was left? (Don’t answer that.) A flash mob is forming outside my window. The men in white coats are coming. I’m going to hide from them in my play pen under my blankie. Back in my mouth goes my iBinky. My sippy cup’s filled with gin. This will be my last message: PfuzzleTwerpFantyZeekGiggleTickNoMor.
— George Gurley, a resident of rural Baldwin City, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.