Sunday, January 10, 2010

Smoke Signals

Cybermation. \n. cy-ber-ma'-shun [2010] - facts perported on the world wide web; 2. \v. broadly : the validation of facts through cyber-means.

I'm inventing a new word. (At least, I think I am.)

Have you heard this word before? No, me either. But I think it's a valid word. And maybe it will end up in the lexicon someday as we're all doing it.

Need a restaurant? Look it up on the web.
Need to know who played Clarence in It's A Wonderful Life?" Google it.
Need a map to a job interview? Yahoo map it.
What the heck kind of bug is that crawling up my rose bush? Who knew garden clubs have websites!!
What's for sale on E-bay? Forgetaboutit! Hours are gone in a blink.

Oh, I've done it all. I don't have the phone yet that has the touch screen or the fun keyboard, (I'm still in the Stone Ages with my little AT&T ABC keyboard.) But at work or home, I rarely call 411 anymore. I look it up on the web. And once you discover this treasure trove of information at your fingertips, it's hard to stop . Some of us are a little obsessive.

I'm not naming names.
No, I'm not.

But along with all this wonderful access, I wonder if our own common sense is in danger of being trumped by the common opinion.

For example:

I was standing in a store line the other day with a woman who began chatting with me as she picked up a Mommy book for her daughter who was due to deliver this woman's first grandchild soon. We started talking about all the 'do's and don'ts' that have suddenly changed the face of pregnancy for our daughters. Mostly don'ts. Don't eat soft cheese. No fish. Don't sleep on your back. No this, no that.

Our daughters, both recenly pregnant had signed onto birth clubs online. And they had access to copious amounts of information that we'd never heard of wayyyyy back when we ourselves had had babies. How did our children ever survive without all of these warnings heeded??

We found ourselves laughing in that store line. Not that we were discounting this new information, but that we often found our own experience as moms trumped by online opinion.

The other day, my grandson had his first runny nose. Here's how that went:
"I think the baby has a cold," she said.

"Maybe it's a cold," I suggested, "or maybe he's just teething."

"Teething doesn't have anything to do with a runny nose, Mom."

"Where did you hear that?"

"Online. Doctors say it has nothing to do with teething."

"Hmmm. You guys always got little runny noses when you had a new tooth breaking through."

"No, mom. That's just wrong information. Maybe an old wives' tale."

Was it? Wait a minute... It couldn't be just me... (And did she just call me an old--? Never mind.)

"Wait," I said, stepping into her camp, "let me look it up."

Naturally, I Googled. And I found information to back up my claim. Yet, even as I'm doing this, I'm laughing to myself. Why do I need the internet to back up my own experience as a mom? (And to be fair, I found information to back up her claim as well. )

I forwarded her my carefully selected quote. She emailed me back a consession. We both laughed. And as soon as that darned tooth broke through, his nose miraculously stopped running.

Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe it is an old wives' tale. In the end, it wasn't really about who was right and who was wrong. It was either a cold or not a cold.

But it really made me think: am I actually second guessing my own real-life experience in favor of the common opinion??
I love the internet.
The internet is scary.
Now, excuse me while I google that pancake recipe I saw the other day online...


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yeah, that's the thing about the internet. There's a ton of information available, but half of it is crap. The trick is knowing which half!

A Palmer said...

Isn't it funny how radically things have changed in this area over the last five years or so? I only look up movie times on my phone. I ask for exact addresses so I can use my GPS to get there. My phone books are underneath my computer screen to make it ergonomically correct. I did almost all my research for my master's degree online. If I want to get ahold of one of my kids, I text them rather than call them (unless I'm driving). Wild!

Matty said...

We all got along just fine without the internet back in the "old days". I say trust your instincts and experience as a veteran mom. Sure, I look things up online too, but nothing beats good ole parental experience.

Snap said...

I think we are in danger of letting the *internet* make important decisions for us. What ever happened to common sense? The internet has taken over!

Here's to runny noses and teething! :D :D

BaysideLife said...

I gave birth to a real computer whiz and he is hellbent on making mom tech savvy. I admit to googling (is that a word? I notice new verbs are being born daily.), map-questing and of course blogging. My phone makes and receives calls--that's it. I will confess to a desire to learn more, but let's keep that between us. I found your blog through Nikonsniper and have enjoyed browsing your entries. I'll visit again.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

My kids often surprise me when instead of using google, they call me. Actually, I'm sure the google the subject too - but like to humour their Mom and make her feel needed. It works!

I walk write past my wonderful collection of cookbooks, all the time, to google for recipes. What is the world coming to?

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

I should google for spelling - 'right past' .... sorry!

Sarah Sullivan said...

LOL I loved this Barb!! Tell Challee to call me the next time..I will confirm your truth..giggle! Give her time..she will find that temps and runny noses come with teeth ..etc .etc..this is her first!
I was shocked that when I had Nonni..they sent me home with three digital thermometers..take her temp every hour or so..OMG it must have been some kind of miracle that the other four survived!! ROFLMAO!! I do find the internet scary a bit.
Love ya hon, Sarah

Chatty Crone said...

Someday we won't need other people - think of that! Sad. Sandie

Unknown said...

ok, so maybe your right about runny noses and teething going hand in hand....I'll let the ladies on know so next time someone googles it, it pops up:)