Google is ubiquitous. I know I’m stating the obvious here, but let me drive the point home. Lately I’ve been seeing television commercials where some “man on the street” approaches people and offers them a challenge where they can view two side-by-side search result pages and choose the one they find most useful. If they choose the Google result page rather than the Bing (who?) result page, Mr. Commercial Man will give them a thousand dollars or a Dodge Dart or some sort of prize – I don’t remember exactly what. Of course, they all choose Bing, everybody is amazed, and whatever. I was intrigued by this millennial generation version of the Pepsi Challenge, so I decided to check out this Bing search engine thing for myself. So, what did I do? Well, naturally, I went straight to www.google.com and typed in “Bing” in order to get myself to the Bing website. That, my friends, is irony.
So, not only did this sequence of events make me question whether or not I am mildly retarded, but it reminded me that Google has reached a level of ubiquity in our everyday lives that places it in the same category of metonyms as Xerox, Kleenex, and Q-tip. (A metonym is a thing or concept not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept. See? I’m smarter than you thought, right?) We don’t search for things anymore; we “Google” them.
This brings me to my point about how aliens will eventually use Google to destroy us. (And here you were thinking I didn’t have a point.)
Despite what you may think, human beings are pretty good about blindly following directions. Before the prevalence of GPS and MapQuest and Google Maps and all that sort of technology, I used to think orange traffic cones and barrels would be the death of us. Think about it. How many times have you been slowed to a crawl in traffic, herded from three lanes down to one, with no evidence of actual road construction in progress? Sometimes I think the Department of Transportation is just fucking with us. Why not? They have to work in the blazing heat, wearing those tacky reflective vests while we’re sailing along the nation’s highways for a happy holiday weekend.
Anyway, I just figured that one of these days, those orange cones would eventually just lead us all up and into a big alien spacecraft and nobody would stop their bitching long enough to notice until it was too late. It could happen.
But now, we have technology! We have Google Earth! We have online maps! Internet driving directions! This will not save us, fellow citizens. This is even worse. Now malevolent space invaders won’t have to be bothered with covertly procuring construction materials with which to corral us. (Though to be fair, any drunken high school kid can tell you that these are fairly easy to swipe.) Everything is online. I know that if I were an advanced extraterrestrial species and I hacked into our computer pipes and tubes and saw something called Google Earth, with a satellite picture of our lovely planet, that is the first place I would commence my intergalactic fuckery.
All they have to do is write some new programming code, change our driving directions, and reroute all of us into their little space-traps. It will work too. Because we’re stupid. We do what our GPS and online driving directions tell us to do, even when they don’t make any sense. I mean, I know that it doesn’t take seven moves to get from my house to the corner, but I still trust Google maps to give me directions to a destination three states away. There is no logic to this blind faith, and I don’t think I trust anyone else like that. I won’t even take a prescription my doctor writes me without cross-checking it on WebMD first, and he went to college for seven years.
I already suspect that something shady is going on with this Internet driving directions racket. I used to be great with directions, but since I no longer use that part of my brain, it has completely atrophied. I recently needed to drive about 30 minutes away to a neighboring city, so I looked up directions. Despite my repeated attempts to “avoid toll roads”, Google Maps wasn’t having it. (See? Somebody is in cahoots with the FDOT. Dirty money!) Because I now apparently have Stockholm Syndrome and am completely unable to just look at a map and choose my own route, I acquiesced and began my toll road journey.
Of course, I totally screwed up and missed my exit. When I reached the next exit, I got to the little toll booth and threw my quarters in the basket and started to leave. Unfortunately, I messed up and put in the wrong amount: $0.75 instead of $1.00, and the bar didn’t go up. So, I backed my car up and tossed in another quarter and pulled ahead again. This did not work because the sonofabitch toll collection machine beast had reset and wanted a whole dollar again and this time I had underpaid by $0.75 rather than making up the difference of my first mistake. For fuck’s sake. I was running out of filthy car change by this point. I backed up again, thankful nobody was behind me, and managed to throw in a dollar’s worth of change and narrowly escape. Then I had to turn around, reenter the highway, swerve at the last minute to make the correct exit, whose sign was labeled completely different from what my printed directions said, and put more fucking money in the stupid toll monster bucket. That evening I lost more than my pride: I lost $3.00. Oh, the humanity. And I was late for dinner.
Here’s the thing: nobody is safe from the potential Earth takeover by Google savvy alien invaders – not even smart-asses like me who know big words like “metonym”. I think we all need to watch our backs and start relearning how to read roadmaps – just in case. And keep a close eye on those orange barrels. They might still go old school.