Ready Reference

I was reading Ashbloem’s blog recently when she made reference to boquerones, and then Neil talked about how much he loved boquerones, and then Ash replied that she can get boquerones at the little store across the street from her house. My first thought was, “What the hell are boquerones?” My next thought was, “I should Google boquerones to find out what they are.”
I clicked over to Google and started to type boquerones, when something made me stop mid-click.
As I sat in front of my computer, all alone in my apartment except for my cat Zahara who was staring at me from atop my monitor, and her brother Maddox who was sitting quietly on the radiator, I had a sudden realization. It used to mean something that I could quote the entire poem, Jabberwocky, from memory, or that I knew all the lyrics to the theme song from the TV show The Banana Splits. These seemingly useless facts that lodged in my brain for one reason or another gave me some odd sense of accomplishment and endeared me to others. But the Internet, particularly Google, changed all that.
With my cursor hovering over the “Google Search” button, it hit me like a ton of bricks: Google is the reason I am alone.
The supply and demand of knowledge is what once drew people together. If I wanted to know how to make a pot roast, I would ask my mother. If I couldn’t remember the name of the actor who played the bad guy in LA Confidential, I would call Seamus. If I needed to find out how to cook up some crystal meth in my basement, I would talk to my friend Dr. Greene.
Now I don’t need any of them. I have Google.
As convenient as this may seem, it also means that none of them need me either. Whatever unique knowledge I once was able to impart is now available online on at least 60,000 different pages within nanoseconds. Google is the reason that no one needs me.
If this were 1984 and I had received a letter from a young pen-pal who made reference to boquerones, I would have just called her and said, “Hey Ash! Ohmigod – did you see Mary Lou Retton win the gold? She’s awesome! I kind of wish she were my best friend – is that weird? Anyway, I was reading that letter you wrote, and was just wondering, what the heck are boquerones?”
Then she would have told me what they were, and shared a wonderful story about the first time she tried them (or wore them, or played them, as the case may be) and a cherished memory would have been created. But it is not 1984. Mary Lou Retton is not my best friend. I do not call people when I need information and they do not call me. We have all been robbed of these bonding life experiences by the über-convenience of the Internet.
And so now, in 2006, I have decided to boycott Google. Starting today, if I need to know something, I am going to communicate with live human beings and ask them. If they don’t know the answer, then maybe I’ll go to the library and use a card catalog, if they still exist. I’ll pull a dusty encyclopedia off the shelf, Volume Aa-Ce, and look up boquerones. If that doesn’t work, I will exclusively watch UniVision, because I think that boquerones sound Spanish, and perhaps I will hear the word and be able to figure out its meaning through visual context. Or maybe I will subscribe to National Geographic on the outside chance that there will be an article about boquerones, which may or may not be small flightless birds found only in the Azores.
As unnecessarily time consuming and inefficient as this process will be, I will stand my ground. Despite the fact that it is agonizing to type the word boquerones over and over again without knowing what it means, I will never, not ever, Google this word. I will force myself to need people. If I am ever to learn what boquerones are, I will have to wait for the day when Ashbloem tells me about them herself.
I just hope it’s a really good story, because otherwise, holy crap, this all will have been a colossal waste of time.
[And in other news, thank you again Kevin! It was so great to see you and Ryan again – you are both as funny and charming as ever. Sorry I missed you Chris – were you there?]

28 Responses to “Ready Reference”

  1. Neil Says:

    What’s a library?

  2. jenny Says:

    Oh Neil, don’t be silly. You know what a library is. It’s that place where people without home computers go to look at porn.

  3. Cheryl Says:

    1. Now that the government is peeking into search engines, you know that people who do searches for “boquerones” are going to be the first ones shipped off to Guantanamo.
    2. It’s totally not weird to wish Mary Lou Retton was your best friend. Or Nadia Comaneci. Or to spend approximately three years of your childhood pretending that you ARE Nadia Comaneci. Anyone who tells you it’s weird is just jealous of your gymansticoolness.

  4. number4of5 Says:

    I couldn’t help myself, it was like trying to look away from pictures of Paris Hilton. You really don’t want to do it, but for all that is good in this world you can’t stop.
    I googled boquerones.
    So now I know.
    And you can call me.

  5. jenny Says:

    Cheryl: I’m pretty sure that anyone Googling “boquerones” will now be sent here. Imagine the look on their faces when they realize I have no idea what it means. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Suckers!
    4of5: It was only a matter of time. Wanna tell me about it over some Olympics? We can watch the women’s gymnastics. Oh wait – these are the Winter Olympics. Stupid bunch of dumb lugers…

  6. romy Says:

    i’m having second thoughts about google myself, these days, not so much because of boquerones or mary lou retton but because of the self-censuring version of the search engine released in china. i couldn’t find anything in our news about this, even though there was a big hubbub recently (according to an article in the french press). but here is one link :
    and another one :
    anyway, ironically, i found those articles by googling the information. and it’s a vast extension of your idea. but in this case, google has decided to isolate a whole nation. i wonder what will happen next …

  7. Jessica Says:

    I’ll just say this – somethin’ is “fishy” with this post.

  8. Tracy Lynn Says:

    Actually, Jen, in my family, I’m the only one who has any spare time at all, so I am the de facto reference library of the Kaply Family. I also look up directions, movie times, and tell people if new episodes of West Wing are scheduled.
    It sad, but true. The computer has made me MORE connected to people.

  9. Kevin Says:

    Libraries have books?!?! Wow! And all I ever get from my library is CDs and DVDs. There’s a whole new world to explore!

  10. Caitlinator Says:

    You are so right. It occurred to me last night that the only friends I have are on the Internet. I miss personal contact.

  11. Caitlinator Says:

    Which is not to say I’d give up my Internet friends for anything.

  12. peefer Says:

    Yeah, there’s lots of them things in the library.
    What a silly question, Jenny.

  13. ashbloem Says:

    Wait, let me get this straight. You STOPPED YOURSELF from Googling the word??
    You are a stronger woman than I am.
    (I would have agreed with you about Mary Lou, and probably would have written a ridiulous youthful fantasy about how the three of us would have so much fun at the mall, buying earrings at Contempo Casuals.)

  14. jenny Says:

    romy: yes, the whole gov’t gaining access to search results is a bit creepy… smacks of a whole different version of 1984 – more Orwell than Mary Lou Retton.
    jess: oh reallllly? So it’s not a small flightless bird?
    Tracy: Do you charge for your services?
    Kevin: I’m impressed that you actually leave the house for DVD’s. Ever since netflix, I can’t be bothered.
    Caitlinator: Yeah, sometimes we just need personal contact. Unless it comes in the form of hugs from co-workers.
    Peef: Is that like Beef-a-Roni? Because I hate meat mixed with noodles.
    Ash: Um, yes. I cannot tell you the amount of restraint it has required to not google it. So… are you planning on ever telling me what they are? Did you want to send it to me in a letter? I will not google it. I refuse.

  15. Erik Says:

    Jenny, you are seriously my hero for not googling the word. There is now way I could ever be as strong as you, at least, not today. I look forward to a day when I can be so zen and restraintful.

  16. kb Says:

    and in other news, it was great to see you too! i’m glad you guys could make it. chris will be heartbroken, i’m sure.

  17. Ryan Barrett Says:

    I agree Kevin on the fact that chris will be heartbroken. But, it is a good thing his wife is a nurse and will be able to fix him up with some TLC.
    But, I am going to propose a reunion at the Gay Blogger Bash on March 2nd at 8 p.m. at Crew Bar. Here is a fancy link if you wanna check out the info:

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    You are now one with the Students for a Free Tibet. They, too, are boycotting Google, which, I’m ashamed to admit to you, I found out about by googling, “Boycott Google”

  19. Chris Says:

    Sorry Jen, I was at an improv rehearsal last night. glad you enjoyed the show.

  20. Chris Says:

    PS- I’m heartbroken.

  21. Postmodern Sass Says:

    Jenny, I need you! Remember when you did your pre-Christmas photo quiz, and everyone commented about the Marshmallow Peeps, and I asked you, I asked you in person, or, at least, over the innernet, what a Marshmallow Peep was, and you told me. Remember that? Huh? See? So there. I couldda Googled it, sure, but I didn’t. I asked you. And then we talked about how sad it was that they don’t have Marshmallow Peeps in Canada, and how I didn’t mind, really, because I’m not that fond of marshmallows anyway, though those Peeps are sure cute. Remember? Oh — and and and and now I’m gonna tell you something, the sort of thing that your best friend Mary Lou might have told you if it had happened to her and, you know, if she actually were your best friend: I was driving The Viking home from karaoke last Monday and I told him about what you said about him and me, that I should love him as in I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you, not just I love you as in I love those shoes, and that we should sail off to Valhalla together but then you said no, wait, that’s where you go when you’re dead, so not there, but a nice Vikingish place, and then I told him about what I said to you about him and he laughed, like, in a good way, I mean; like he thought it was cute. And then we made out. No; wait, ok, we didn’t. But see, I couldda told you that and you totally would have believed me, wouldn’t cha’ve?

  22. Lynn Says:

    Give up Googling? That’s just crazytalk.

  23. spinner8 Says:

    You are insightful and wise. Thank you for pointing this out.
    I’m going to go find my dictionary (wherever it might have been stashed since google arose) and look up these so called “boca ratons” or whatever they are.
    And I’m going to talk to real people while I do it. (No offense to any of you here, of course.)

  24. bluebird Says:

    Try them like this

  25. nina Says:

    I do not believe a word of this post. Google is like brushing your teeth. Would you ever think of giving up brushing? Of course not.
    And why is your cat called Zahara instead of Sahara? I should google Zahara…

  26. jenny Says:

    Erik: Yay! I’m someone’s hero! Do my bidding! Sew me some tiny hats for my kittens!
    kb: I doubt Chris’ life will ever be the same.
    Ryan: Good god, man! A room full of gay bloggers and alcohol? The trouble I could get into… ;)
    Viv: I suspect the Free Tibet Students are a bit more organized than I am, but we do share a common enemy.
    Chris: Buck up, little soldier. Another time. Besides, I think I’m the one who is heartbroken.
    P-Sass: Yes, you did reach out to human beings, and learned about Peeps in the process. Just too bad you didn’t get to kiss the Viking. All in due time…
    Lynn: But is it crazy? Or is it just so sane that it blew your mind?!
    Spinner8: Look underneath your monitor – I’ll bet your dictionary has been propping it up.
    bluebird: Thanks! And fortunately, I didn’t give up using the babelfish translator, since that recipe is all in Spanish. :)
    Nina: Ye of little faith. I did not google the word, and thankfully, Ashbloem came to my rescue and told me her story, which was far more personal than anything I could have found on google. But you should actually google both my cats’ names: Zahara and Maddox. Let me know what you find.

  27. Erik Says:

    How many tiny hats do you need?

  28. jenny Says:

    erik: just two. maybe an elegant beret for zahara, and a jaunty newsboy cap for maddox. thank you!