Why doesn’t Google have all the answers?
Is a question I have asked very often in the last 10 years or so. While the internet seems to be a rather good place to consult for technical equipment questions, it can be a minefield for personal questions. Let's consider asking Google some of the following questions, and how straightforward the answers would be:
My partner seems distant lately, what could be the problem? Should I talk to them about it, and what should I say?
I feel drained when talking to members of my family, what should I do?
I am always tired when I wake up, is there something wrong? How can I solve this?
I am finding the lockdown difficult, what should I do?
How can I stop feeling ashamed about things I did ten years ago that keep resurfacing in my mind?
My guess is that it would be extremely difficult for Google to come up with clear-cut answers. The main reason would be that the internet as a whole does not have personalised answers, to exactly suit the circumstances and delicate nuances of each person's unique situation.
While it is possible for individuals to post a question and others to answer it, and for even more people to identify with the OP (original poster), it is very difficult to convey the exact situation in a few sentences. It is also quite difficult for individuals to be able to communicate what their feelings are, rather than just their thoughts, when posting their question, especially when posting publicly in a rather impersonal medium. The same applies for the individuals that are answering the question: Oftentimes, we can perceive an answer online as quite objective, because of the way it is presented. However, we tend to forget that it is influenced by the poster's emotions, and current and past experiences and relationships, amongst other factors.
"So, if not Google, where can I look for answers?" I hear you ask. "It's not like I have access to a wise guru, or that I can leave my house much right now. My old encyclopaedia set is in my mom's attic, but last time I checked, it didn't say what to do about my strained relationship with my brother, or my sleep problems."
The good news is, that the internet is a good place for you to be able to gather some ideas about the issues you are experiencing, especially regarding practical considerations. These can be interesting starting points for you, as long as you remember that they might not be the full answer.
In addition, the internet is a place where you can look for more personalised support, in the form of either support groups of individuals experiencing similar issues to you, or (big surprise that I’m saying this) online therapy/counselling!
Of course, one should always be aware that, just because someone can advertise online or have a website, it doesn’t automatically make them an expert on something. For example, when choosing a counsellor, it is important to listen to your gut instinct, and see if you feel that this is someone that you could connect to and trust. This trust and connection is then built over time, but a good first impression can always help guide you towards what you feel is right. It is important to head to reputable websites that check the credentials of professionals to meet minimum professional standards. A few examples are:
The general idea is, that the answer is already within you, but you might need some help to uncover it. This could be in the form of integrating other answers that you read online with information that you already have, talking to friends and family, members of a support group or a mental health professional. I know it might at times sound frustrating, especially when all you want is to just find a clear-cut answer, but it is true: You are the expert on you, and you have the power to uncover the answers you need.
Sometimes, this could take more time and effort than a simple Google search. However, the journey to the answer can sometimes certainly be even more valuable than finding the answer itself. The journey you choose to take towards finding an answer can also help you understand that you are capable of looking after your self and mental health. Whether you find the specific answer that you were looking for or not, don’t forget to look back at the whole process of searching, and be proud of what you have achieved!