Friend Google, not Face­book

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Last year, our use of Face­book sur­passed our Google us­age. Why is this a prob­lem?

If you are on Face­book, there are only seven pos­si­bil­i­ties for what you might be do­ing.

You are post­ing a ran­dom thought that just struck you.

You are writ­ing on some­one’s wall, prob­a­bly some­thing that will con­fuse any­one else who looks, such as the word “TUR­DUCKEN.”

You are go­ing through all the posts of that one guy from high school who thinks that he’s a were­wolf. You are “ lik­ing” some­thing. You are join­ing the Tay­lor Laut­ner fan page.

You are view­ing the pho­tos of your for­mer sig­nif­i­cant other, try­ing to de­duce whether he or she has found hap­pi­ness and if that hap­pi­ness is bet­ter-or worse-look­ing than you are.

You are post­ing a pic­ture that is ei­ther un­flat­ter­ing or com­pro­mis­ing.

If you are search­ing Google, how­ever, you are at least, in the­ory, ex­press­ing the kind of cu­rios­ity that is not syn­ony­mous with stalk­ing. For ex­am­ple:

You are try­ing to prove a point to some­one. You have whipped out your iPhone; he is look­ing it up si­mul­ta­ne­ously on his Black­Berry, and it is tak­ing him much longer. You are Googling your­self. You are try­ing to re­mem­ber what the name of that thing is by search­ing for other things that re­mind you of the thing.

You are typ­ing a ques­tion to see if Google will sug­gest that ques­tion back to you.

You sud­denly want to know some­thing oddly spe­cific, like what, if any­thing, PaulMcCart­ney thought about Yoko Ono.

I find all these uses re­as­sur­ing. But ap­par­ently, they’re go­ing out of vogue.

If you don’t think it’s a slip­pery slope, con­sider: In 2007, MyS­pace was top. Now it’s a laugh­ing­stock.

The In­ter­net was sup­posed to be a win­dow. Google has al­ways em­braced this idea — point­ing out­ward. From your desk in what­ever re­mote corner, you could ac­cess the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of hu­man knowl­edge. But Face­book feeds the op­po­site of this im­pulse. Even when you’re peer­ing at your neigh­bor, its nar­row blue win­dow of­fers only a clearer view of your navel.

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