Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Love-Hate Relationship with Google

I love information.

But I don't watch or read national or international news. I read my local (as in tiny) newspaper and keep up to date on local events and arts and culture. I do listen to the CBC in the car but turn it off if there's bad news (I'm not prepared to discuss rape and murder to my kids while we drive to the beach) . I get my big news by talking with people who DO read the paper, and the discussions we have are much more useful than a 250 word snippet in a paper that is owned by a huge corporation.

The freedom of information - many sources - on the internet thrills me though.

But I find knowing I can always find an answer to any question that flits through my head distances me from actually experiencing things and living in the moment.

There is some criticism of the Waldorf approach to children's WHY questions. Instead of answering the question with all the information you have - scientific, theory, philosophy, etc - you simply attend to the child and say "I wonder about that too".

Critics feel this is a copout and is disrespectful of the child's question.

In my experience doing this it is incredibly respectful. It allows the child room to talk about their inner world and when the question comes out again it isn't a big general WHY question, it's something more simple or more profound, but the child often gives you the answer they need at that time in what they say. Often what they need is just your attention, that you attend, and LISTEN. Sometimes what they need is reassurance. Sometimes what they need is age appropriate information and explanation, but in my experience in the preschool set (birth to 7) it is actually a rare occurance that they need facts.

So what about GOOGLE?

Well GOOGLE is that well meaning adult who explains light refraction and water and the atmosphere to a four year old who asks why the sky is blue instead of getting down to their level and saying "I wonder about that too." Most of the links I get directed to are just "noise pollution" and I feel battered by the volume. Those that answer my question leave me wanting, because the question isn't really the issue. Google doesn't answer WHY I felt I needed an answer so badly. It doesn't address anything under the surface of that question. Once the question is answered I'm left thinking that should be it.

What I really need to do is say "I wonder?" and live with that question for a bit. Does it flit right out again to be replaced with another unrelated urgent question? Or does my question root itself and grow into a more complex branching question? Does it bear a fruit with the REAL question inside? A lot of times my questioning is anxiety about something else.

For instance I have been GOOGLING learning disabilities until my eyes could fall out of my head. The result? It distanced me from my children as they became masked in statistics and theories and methods and other people's experiences. It confused me because there are so many opinions and everyone is sure they have the answer if they're hawking a product.

Underlying all that GOOGLING was anxiety about the future and my ability to meet my child's special needs. What I really needed was a warm smile and a hand on my shoulder at the market saying "I'm available anytime you need to talk, and I think you're doing the best thing possible. You're a great mum."

Google can't give me a hug.


Kelly said...

I would love to get rid of my computer in general for many of the reasons you specify. I can't seem to do it, though... ((((hugs)))

red fraggle said...

You are a good mom - trying to do the best for your kids. I find the googling is often about selling things too. I also like more in depth less biased information which is why I'm trying to find good books about dyslexia for instance. I'm a talker too -- when I read I skim and get overwhelmed sometimes so I think I'll be calling people for help. If you want to chat anytime give me a call. Once I feel I know a bit more I'm sure I'll have ideas and questions. : ) Right now I'm in research and overwhelm mode.

Mud Mama said...

Thanks guys...I wish market day was every day :-) I always meet just the RIGHT person and get exactly what I need there. Some days its a mom reassurance, others a lead on a good handyman, some days its just wildcrafted greens.

I'm going to a visioning session with local holistic minded moms on what we want in our community for us and for our kids. I'm looking forward to deep, FORWARD thinking discussion.

I'm going to make myself a GOOGLE? We don't need no stinkin' GOOGLE! tshirt.

Oma said...

What about the googling that got you the hat pattern???

And of course you are a wonderful mom ... we could all have told you that ... I thought we already had.


krista said...

google reminds me of the kid in the front of the class that raises his hand because he knows all the answers. but he never realizes that he only knows the answers because he just remembered what other people told him and never really questioned any of it.
that being said, i'm a big fan of google and the internet as a whole. but i also know better than to believe everything i see/read/google.
and i definitely do worry about this generation of babies growing up in such proximity to TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
it seems like we're falling out of balance.

~thank you for always making me see things a little differently than i did before i came to visit you here~