During a family or work gathering, a friend, family member, or coworker throws out a tidbit of information about a scientific, political, or historical event. When you ask them where they heard this, their response is often, “Just Google it.”
This approach can be problematic because Google is a search engine that combs through billions of data and provides seemingly endless answers, which may align with a specific person’s viewpoint. As a result, the search results may vary depending on the individual’s perspective. Additionally, there is the question of reliability. Can the information found through the search engine be traced back to a peer-reviewed resource? What should you do if you can’t find the answer or its source? Should you spend more time trying to figure out where they heard it, embark on futile expeditions, and waste time? Alternatively, should you reach out to other people and inquire if they have heard about the specific event or information?
Why do people resort to answering your inquiry with “Google it”? Is it for convenience or as a shortcut to abruptly end the conversation?
Consider what would happen if marketing, analysis, and UX designers added the phrase “Just Google it” to their presentations or documentation footnotes. It would shift the responsibility of finding the source onto the audience, potentially undermining trust in the presenter’s documentation.
The next time your uncle or coworker shares a fact at a gathering, ask them where you can read more about it. Let them know that you don’t trust Google and would like to know which books, authors, or sources to research. This approach can help both the presenter and the listener be on the same page regarding the information’s source. It will also encourage everyone to be more mindful of what they read and to think critically before sharing.