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Beacon Senior News

LMGTFY: Let me Google that for you

Jan 25, 2021 03:01PM ● By Adam Cochran
Let me google that for you

When I was in fourth grade, I had a social studies teacher who had a lazy answer for her most inquisitive students. “Write down your question and when you get to the library on Thursday, ask the librarian to help you find the answer.” When we asked her what a word meant, she would say, “Here’s a dictionary, look it up.”

As you can imagine, her apathetic teaching style was extremely annoying to the more curious learners. Before the first quarter was over, we stopped asking her questions and just started looking words up ourselves. Some of us would sneak off to the library during lunch to search for the answers that were nagging us.

In the 21st century, every single student has access to a repository of all human knowledge. Most carry a smartphone that allows them to access the answer to any question without leaving their desk or raising their hand.

Grownups understand that my teacher wasn’t avoiding our questions at all. She was teaching me to find the answers for myself. But many people who were trained to find the answers in the library or the dictionary haven’t developed the habit or skill of searching for answers on the internet.

Every week, I get calls from former students, friends and strangers asking me questions that can be immediately located with a search on Google, YouTube or even Amazon.

I’m a member of Facebook groups about crafting, virtual reality, teaching, art, photography and technology. Every day, someone asks the group a question like, “What’s the difference between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro?” Without exception, members of the group reply with dozens of answers. Many of the responses are inaccurate or even derogatory. LMGTFY (Let Me Google That For You) is a common snarky comeback that I hear techies give a lot in response to these types of questions.

A significant number of internet users don’t know that you can literally type a question into Google or YouTube. “What’s the difference between iPhone 12 and 12 Pro?” will not only bring up the answer, but the autocomplete will finish your question before you are even done typing. While Google is a great source for answers to questions, I use YouTube more often when I need to know how to do something.

For example, one night I met two people in a Walmart parking lot who were struggling with a dead battery in a 2008 Prius. One of them was the owner of the Prius, the other was a good Samaritan with an SUV and jumper cables.

When I arrived on the scene, they had been trying to figure it out for more than 20 minutes and the owner was talking to the tow truck company. I pulled out my phone and typed, “How to jump a 2008 Prius” into Youtube. We all watched the 3-minute video together and the owner of the Prius canceled the tow truck five minutes later. I didn’t do anything other than search for the answer and play the video, but they both thanked me profusely for solving the problem.

So the next time you call a friend, neighbor or relative and ask them a question, listen very closely for the sounds of keyboard clicks in the background. Chances are, the person is Googling the question for you. Better yet, dazzle them by learning a new skill or fixing a problem using the information you discovered by researching the answer without their assistance.