Dr. Google

By now, most people are familiar with the online search engine Google. Yes, there are many out there, so feel free to generalize this information to the one you use. Never before have we had access to this much information at our fingertips. From finding articles for school projects to world events to fact checking the latest satire article, we turn to the Internet for advice. I even use a website to identify actors in movies and TV shows.

The one thing I love about Google is how accessible things are. I no longer have to hope I have the right information about a topic. A 3 second search reveals so many links that I actually encounter information overload. Sometimes the search results are repetitive and sketchy, but they lead me down other paths in my searches, The Internet is indeed the Web that surrounds us all now.

Given my situation, I fondly refer to Google as Dr. Google. I frequently find more information about my medical conditions on Google than I do when I speak with my doctors. Yes, I know Google is a tool and anything read there should be thoroughly questioned before being accepted as true. However, I do know people who self-diagnose based on Internet information.

With the current health threats in the news, people are looking up illnesses and then frantically trying to get appointments with their doctors. In these cases, I think Dr. Google may not be the most appropriate resource. Especially if you are prone to panic attacks.

On the other hand, when you are deep into medical issues, Dr. Google can point you in directions so you can ask more insightful questions. It’s a toll that helps fill in the blanks when you don’t understand everything that has been thrown at you. I use Dr. Google to find explanations of terms that my doctors use, but don’t necessarily explain. It takes some of the mystique out of medical practice, but when used tactfully, many physicians find it easier to talk with patients.

So, to Google or to refrain. It’s what works for you. Always remember that what you read on Google may have been published by someone with something to gain. Buyer beware is an excellent way of looking at Google information. Also remember that people who are deep into medical issues are already receiving tons of information that far exceeds Dt. Google’s. Talking about a disease process that doesn’t affect you based on Dr. Google is annoying at best and potentially harmful.

Your challenge: Be an intelligent consumer. Know which web sites are reputable. With all this information at our fingertips, we must engage our brains and make decisions based on facts and how the decisions affect us. Don’t fall prey to invalid information. And please, don’t Google a disease and assume you are an expert. Happy surfing!


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