To Google or not to Google?

A Christian Science perspective: Online research can be helpful and informative as well as addictive and captivating, especially when symptoms of illness are involved. How does anyone draw the line?

Does it seem that it’s easy to get drawn into finding all the answers to our lives through the Internet? This available, expansive, and fast technological advance is bringing information to the world quickly and comprehensively. Anytime we need to find a restaurant, a date, or the last time the moon was full, we have an immediate answer on the Web.

The advancements in accessibility of information and communication can lead us to new ideas, expanded thought, and connections across the globe. It’s a tool that has saved lives by reaching those in need with inspiration and care. Exploring topics of well-being with discernment, expectation, as well as wisdom and self-control, can open us up to the very idea we need just when we need it.

But there is also a danger I’ve learned to be alert to. A reliance on other people’s thoughts and opinions can be addictive and hypnotic. Instead of leading to well-being, it can lead us into a morass of information that is overwhelming, conflicting, confusing, and often depressing. How helpful is that?

While I’ve certainly found gems of inspiration and comforting insights on the Web just when I’ve needed them, I’ve also been a victim of the hypnotism it can promote when I’m not on guard. I have willingly set myself down before the Google god and typed my question into its gaping maw. The answers have usually been prolific. And one answer has led only to another question and another question, portal to portal into an endless, dark maze.

I’ve found this mesmerizing trip into a cyberspace abyss to be the most compelling in relation to health, which is such a prime personal concern for everyone. It’s a topic ripe for a bottomless trough of information. When we are suffering from some malady, human nature wants to know what it is. And since very often we are shy about talking about our ailments, why not consult Google? Or Bing? Or Ask Jeeves? Or this or that blog that looks reputable? These resources don’t know me, so they won’t lie to me or judge me.

And so the appointment with Dr. Google uncovers the fact that I am either (1) on my last days and should prepare my estate, (2) paranoid and ignorant, (3) stuck with my problem forever as there is no cure, or (4) easily cured with expensive drugs or a drink of cool water.

So, more questions, more googling, more time wasted, weary eyes, frustration, and often, increased fear. What have I gained? Isn’t this process of search with no rescue akin to mesmerism? Isn’t it simply putting faith in another’s opinion, needing another’s validation to tell me what is true even if I don’t know the integrity of the source? Even when that source has no particular awareness of my individual situation?

One day I found myself wondering about a recurring physical symptom, and, against my higher intuitions, ruminating about it. Before I knew it, I was caught in the middle of this googled mire of sometimes incomprehensible information and found myself transfixed by it. Time whipped by. My mind became a jumble of prognoses, remedies, causes, and fears. I was google-eyed! Then, blessedly, a firm yet inaudible voice broke the mesmerism and rescued me: “Step away from the machine. God, Truth, has the reliable answer, the right one for you, and it is also full of love. Hit ‘escape’ and ‘refresh!’ ”

What a relief!

I got up from the computer and chose to really live the life God gave me rather than allow a screen full of opinions to carry me away into its unsubstantiated drama. I felt better right away. As I lost my fascination with the symptoms, they left my experience.

Just because a symptom comes to us for legitimacy doesn’t mean we have to give it a life, a preoccupation, and our precious time. The quicker we can turn away from human speculation to divine interpretation, the sooner we will find real well-being and what is so essential to it: peace of mind.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, gave this vivid comparison: “Disquisitions on disease have a mental effect similar to that produced on children by telling ghost-stories in the dark.... Darkness induces fear.... The way in divine Science is the only way out of this condition” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 371).

The thorough perusal of every material cure, a comparison of symptoms with fellow sufferers, and long and tedious and fear-inducing write-ups on disease are not the answer to health and that precious peace of mind. In fact, they keep the human mind focused on the very things it needs to lose – preoccupation with matter and the fear of it.

Alternately, the light of Truth, the spiritual and consistent fact, awakens us. Christian Science, a health-care system proved by thousands to be an effective means of attaining health and well-being, teaches that God’s message is clear and clearly for us. It is safe, sanitary, and reliable. It is never mere speculation, and it contains nothing fearful and everything loving. Divine Love blesses us with a real picture of ourselves and our condition as whole and wholesome, reflecting the perfection of the divine. It shows us that we are not vulnerable mortals, subject to sickness and fear. We remain forever intact as God’s own creation, perfectly maintained and forever cared for with both intimacy and power. We need no second opinion.

When I look for causes in matter, I always find myself perplexed and fearful, as I did that day when I finally heard the wake-up call from God. When I discipline my thinking instead, to stay focused on the true Cause, God, I find sound and loving solutions, clear and personal answers, and real results. I find health, healing, and well-being. No word on a screen has more power than the Word of God to awaken us to the vast goodness of life in and of Spirit, and to each one of us as the immediate recipient of that true and reliable diagnosis of perfection, freedom from fear, and genuine peace of mind.

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