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Pondering Google, Facebook And Wasting Time
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Pondering Google, Facebook And Wasting Time


Finally, this hour, the tension between our high-tech lives and time. Our commentator Andrei Codrescu cherishes his time, and he finds that the clever things we've developed as time-saving systems aren't saving him time.

ANDREI CODRESCU: When she was 10, my wife, Laura, belonged to a junior librarian club whose motto was: we never guess; we look it up. Her club came up when I was complaining about the tons of e-mail I get asking questions people can look up. I thought about signing off with: don't ask me anything you can Google.

After some well-meaning fan put up a Facebook page for me, I signed up for it myself, and now I get messages on Facebook that I could have gotten just as easily in my regular e-mail. My regular e-mail now tells me I have a Facebook message, forcing me to go to Facebook, which is slow on accounts of the jillion egos battling for verbal-audio-visual attention.

The new media has given me several new insights: One, most people have too much time on their hands. Two, most people are passive receptacles for whatever goes by. Three, most people are not bothered by redundancy. And four, most people want to be recognized for something, even if it's just dumb repetition.

Maybe there is an upside to this, something organic that's good for evolution. But I'm inclined to think that it's deliberate extortion by aliens. Google me timbers.

The name alone is so cute, you can hardly go on for an hour without hearing or saying it. Google. Google. Yo, Google.

If Google ever takes off its mask, you might be surprised to find that it doesn't look cute at all, it is more insect than human. It almost happened when it agreed to censor itself in China. I suspect, too, that this Google is just the first of many coming Googles, one cuter than another, each with more time-chomping jaws than the next.

I wonder where all this time we seem to have comes from. Did the washing machine and the car really create such leisure time we are giving it over to Google? Are the machines really working that well together?

I guess, but I just don't know. And this time, I can't just look it up, oh, junior librarians, because there is no Google for this question.

BLOCK: That's poet and novelist Andrei Codrescu. He's editor of the literary journal Exquisite Corpse.

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