Twitter is my Google.
I get a decent amount of shit for just asking people on Twitter things I can google. And that’s fine. I’m fond of saying that “Twitter is my Google” when I get it. But there’s a reason I do it beyond the simple desperate grasp at any kind of human contact in this post-personal, hand-sanitized, digital-synthetic world. Google has changed.
It used to be that Google opened windows to the world. The truly great thing about it was how anti-contextual it was. When I sat down and started googling, I never knew where I’d end up, what I’d find. It brought the world to my computer screen, vivid and arresting and strange. Fascinating glimpses at the broad sweep of human experience.
That’s just not true anymore. The ad-revenue driven model, and constant need to maximize receipts, has made Google focus on search results likely to result in me spending money at a local, or internet, business. It stores what I search for, and as much other information about me as it can, and uses that information to contextualize my search results to places that I can engage in commerce. And it is handsomely paid to do so.
And I don’t really have a problem with that. Google is welcome to develop whatever business model they like; I’m not telling them to change. But it means that I enjoy using their service less. I don’t web-surf to find out where I can spend money. Well, not very much. Sometimes I surf looking for a retail outlet, or importer. Mostly, when I am searching, I’m searching to learn about the world.
But Google has gradually replaced the wilds of the internet that I used to find in my searches with local businesses and routine results that don’t really inform me. My google-world (the first page of my search results) has contracted to advertisements and a few results in downtown ECC. It’s extra work to go find the exciting, novel, thrilling things out there. As the internet has become successfully commercialized, its wonder has diminished.
So, yes. Twitter is my Google. I have access to a huge variety of brilliant, individually contextualized actual human beings. With ideas and opinions and interests and access to the whole world in alarmingly unpredictable ways. People with experience and opinion who are not trying to tell me what I want to hear in hopes of me giving them money. Sometimes, I ask, and I don’t get anything back. That’s OK too. It spurs me to ask more interesting questions.
When I ask a question of Google, I get simple, algorithmic, hygienic, and standardized results with a clear purpose that is not my purpose. When I ask a question of the throng on Twitter, I have no idea what I’ll get. But I know it won’t be slickly commercial and stultifying. And I know that I am connecting with people, instead of being fed milquetoast by a machine.