Somehow in an internet culture, where I feel as though someone is always looking over my shoulder, putting me in a group with other similar minded and synonym clicking friends, I’ve started screening my searches. This is what the post-NSA revelation internet has lost, a lack of shame. For some reason, I apply my moral codes on the invisible searchers of the servers. I think that what my morals say are wrong to search, I should avoid. In case my search engine, whose history can tell you more about me than my closest friends, somehow starts spitting out it’s collected knowledge. I’ve stopped searching for that which embarrasses me, or more specifically, I would be embarrassed if my parents found out what I had searched.
All this to say, I’ve stopped googling words. This was my favorite function of Google, that I could ask it the questions that I was ashamed I did not already know the answer to. I could type in a word, and it would define it for me, no questions asked, only small banner ads transporting my personal information to strange marketers in stuffy rooms. But, now, by becoming less emblazoned to search for anything, I’ve started to limit my knowledge. I’m actively selecting to not know. Because somehow, I’ve become embarrassed to be searching for words more than once. So, I’ve started to keep a dictionary firmly hovering next to my always open programs of my 2010 MacBook Pro. The red makes a nice contrast color to the blue iTunes, which I never close, because then I have to re-open and click at least three message boxes before it will play music. It hovers next to Microsoft word, finder, Firefox, and my calendar.
The dictionary has become a place of quick reference that does not judge. It helps me out, when like a third grader, I don’t know how the spell the word I know how to say, so it’s a little harder to find. It tells me the meaning of the word. There are no ads, no banners, no waiting for 10 seconds for the outdated flash content of dictionary.com to load so I can finally find the definition of that word I remember studying for during my SATs. It does not report to anyone. It doesn’t really remember what I search either, so I can ask it again for a definition, and it won’t judge me with it’s purple link of shame. It helps me to learn. I suppose on the other end of the spectrum, that my resistance to search for a definition of a word, helps me creatively use my brain thesaurus, and better remember the word, the first time I search it. However, I really do believe, that learning should be ad-free, open, free of judgment, and encouraging.
In response to my friend who asked to borrow my computer and then mocked me for my open desktop applications I have this to say, when you’re taking a class about which you know nothing about, see if you can understand an article without having to google amaranth, chayote, or cordage.
But now, it appears, they’ve updated my dictionary so that it too reports like a good little program drone. Guess I’ll have to break out my old hardcovered Merriam Webster baby I bought at Half-Price Books for a dollar. Because, sometimes I want to know no one is watching.