A few weeks ago artichokes were on sale and they looked good so I thought I would try them on the menu that night. When I got home I realised I had never cooked fresh artichoke and had no idea how to start. Not to worry though, I just jumped online and ‘Googled’ it. Within minutes they were slowly cooking away.

Whenever I need an answer to an unusual question; a recipe; directions; instructions on how to do something; or just about anything, I simply type it into Google and within seconds there it is on my computer screen. These days we rely so heavily on the web that it’s difficult to imagine that there was a time, not that long ago, when the internet was nothing more than a concept waiting to be developed. We didn’t have the answer to our questions at our fingertips and I think we were more interactive with our fellow human beings. It also humbled us, we weren’t experts on everything.

My husband is a shining example of what can be achieved with the power of web. With a little help from the web (and some inherent skill) he has become a bike mechanic, a fence constructor, he’s hung doors, fixed the car and whipped up a mean lentil dhal. You can find step-by-step video tutorials, blogs with plenty of tips and hints, e-books etc. on just about any topic if you just search. You no longer need to leave your home to shop and getting directions to somewhere is as easy as typing the address into Google Maps, you can even have a look at the street from ground level if you want. Even something as simple as looking up the time, doing a quick calculation or finding the spelling to an unfamiliar word can be done in a matter of seconds with minimum input. It’s pretty easy to do almost anything. Whilst having so much information at your fingertips is pretty useful, we have to consider what we miss out on by utilising the web so heavily.

For example, before the days of the web if I didn’t know how to cook something or wanted an idea for a recipe I would have either flicked through my recipe books or given Mum or a friend a call. The first would have given me a few minutes to relax and a lot of inspiration, the second some quality time catching up with someone important to me and a tried and tested recipe. If I had an unusual question I would ask someone, or look it up next time I went to the library. If I didn’t know where some place was I’d ask and then go exploring. If something needed fixing I’d ask a friend to help me. I’d find out about a friend’s engagement or their latest holiday over coffee, not via a Facebook post. People were definitely more interactive on a face to face level in the days before web.

There is also the more negative side to think about. The internet gives us access to so much information that it is possible for kids to make bombs from their living room and access x-rated images at the click of a mouse. Stalkers can find out a wealth of information about their victim by browsing through online profiles and status updates. A Google search of someone’s name can uncover a plethora of information that sometimes they’d rather you didn’t know. Also, anyone can create a website and appear to be an authority on any subject, which isn’t always the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe the web is all bad, I just think we have come to rely on it too much. I encourage you, next time you need an answer, get away from the screen and ask a friend instead. I’ll bet the experience will be more rewarding.