Why I’ve fallen out of love with Google
You and I have been together for a long time now, since 1998 in fact. I know that doesn’t quite make me a bona fide early adopter. And since I first looked to you to provide me with the answers to questions that plagued me, many others have followed in my footsteps. But even though you had only been available for about a year or so back then, compared with all the others I’d gone searching with – Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, even Alta Vista – you were…. different.
Things just seemed to click between us. You were there whenever I needed you and I soon forgot about the others. You never let me down. Things were simple. I asked, you answered. You never pretended to be something you weren’t.
Times change though. Indeed, times have changed. After a while it became clear that you wanted more, you needed more. I can’t blame you for that. It’s only natural.
I discovered that some people were using you for email. I was in no hurry to join in. But in the end I did. It was important to you, and that was enough for me to give it a go.
There were Documents, allegedly. I never paid much attention to them to be honest. It felt odd, too unusual. Out of character, even. I am not one who fears change, but it’s the little changes that allow one to read another’s motivation and behaviour and I detected a change in you that I hadn’t expected.
Maybe that’s why I ignored these Documents that so many people had begun to talk about so freely. I wanted to retain my grin of ignorant bliss for as long as possible.
There were other things too. But where it really started to go wrong for me was when you started asking everyone to Wave.
By and large, we didn’t want to. A few did – I was one of them. But it soon felt more like drowning than waving.
You then started to create a Buzz. It was starting to become embarrassing. You were becoming involved in everything. It felt like random, out of control behaviour. As though you didn’t know what you wanted anymore.
Throughout, I remained loyal, faithful and true. You were my search engine. Nothing was going to change that. Not even when someone asked me if I fancied having a Bing. Yes I was tempted. But I stayed resolute.
In my mind’s eye you were still young, fresh, challenging.
But your obsession with doing more and doing it with more and more people had by now taken such a grip on you that, if I’m honest with myself, you had changed beyond comparison with how you were when we first met.
Sharing. It was like a virus.
You called it GooglePlus and it was your desperate attempt to create your own social life, having so resolutely missed the boat when others created theirs.
You wanted people to share with you. You wanted people to share with each other. Where would it end, I wondered. Frictionless sharing, that’s where. Good lord… is this really what you have become?
Nothing and no one can take from me the memories of those early days. Back in 1998, colleagues scoffed at my boyish enthusiasm for you. But they soon succumbed to your charms. I felt vindicated. And a little smug. I was on the side of an up-and-coming challenger. It felt good. I felt good.
But times move on and people change. You are now a dominant force. No longer a plucky challenger with coquettish ways and winning performance to get you through. You don’t listen like you used to. You make assumptions about what you can get away with.
I want to tell you that it isn’t you, it’s me. Thing is… it is you.
But even so, I can’t quit you – as the line goes from Brokeback Mountain. You are everywhere I look. I am reflected in your Chrome. And even as I write, somewhere a courier is bringing me my first Android-powered smartphone.
I searched for the phone online. I…. Googled it. For all your fancy ways, underneath it all, you are still my search engine. Nothing can change that.