Don’t Google Everything


Hi all,

I want to talk about googling information today because I made a mistake regarding it the other day.

I love technology. I think it is very helpful in a lot of ways. We should embrace it. But as with everything, it has some bad sides as well.

You probably heard the warnings against looking up symptoms on Google. Why? Googling our symptoms makes us panic because it seems like whenever we have a little symptom, we might have a serious illness. In most cases, that is false alarm.

Another thing you should not google is how much does X study/work a day. I am a PhD student and I am expected to work a lot. But this essentially means that we are expected to produce research, which we understand as working a lot. I have had my own struggles with it. My nature is such that if I work a lot, I become extremely unproductive and unimaginative. I usually have not been as nerdy as expected from a PhD student. But there came a point where I thought everyone around me was working very hard but I was not. So, I overworked for a whole semester, which became a nightmare later. It led to a big burn-out. I only lasted a semester with that schedule. Then, I got back to my own schedule: work but also chill as much.

But the other day, I got that feeling again. I am going to a conference in January and my research is nowhere close to end, so I panicked a bit. So, I checked if I was studying as much as expected.

I was not. I was doing half of what they said. Then I said to myself: ‘Of course your research will not fall in place. You are not giving it your all.’ I felt bad and slept. But then I sat down and reminded myself of what happened when I tried to work more. And I also reminded myself of my own study style. Everyone is different and every field of study is different too.

I got back to myself but it took some while. Googling hours of study was not a good idea.

The lesson in this is that we should discover some things by trial and error, namely by discovering how it applies to us. Sure, we can get ideas from others, but we should limit it in a way that will not harm us.

Does googling some things give you anxiety? If so, what are they? Have you googled your symptoms? If so, did it make you panic? What are some things that you think we ourselves should discover? Let’s talk about how to utilize information on the internet.


58 thoughts on “Don’t Google Everything

  1. Good thinking! When I was a PhD student, I couldn’t put in the late-night hours as my fellow PhD students did, as I was a single parent. It sometimes stressed me, as your Google search did, but in the end, it turned out that I got so much more efficient work done in my restricted time than they did in their unlimited time. Having this daily deadline and mental time off my research even made me graduate earlier than them.

    1. I don’t have a child but I still get the same feelings as you did. I get much more efficient when I do my work in restricted time and allocate the rest of my time for other things I enjoy doing, such as chatting with people. Glad to have some confirmation of my approach in you:)

  2. If I google symptoms it either give relief that I know what’s happening or I assume it’s not the worst case scenario and underplay my problem.
    For example, when I had stomach pains and couldn’t lift my leg up into the car I assumed it was my MS playing up. (Thanks google for telling me something else wearing down the body will make MS worse and sometimes the leg problem will mean you can’t lift it up independently.)
    This led to a false sense of security and so I studiously ignored my symptoms all week. Turns out my appendix needed emergency surgical removal as it was pretty manky! Oops!

    1. That has been mostly my experience, which is why I stopped doing that. I think the best thing is to not focus on each and every little thing. But if you are suspicious about something, asking a doctor is best.

  3. Maybe it’s not always searching for symptoms, as much as it is relying on the first few results on the first page of your search results to provide you a more or less definitive answer as to what your particular issue may be. Go a few pages deep in the results. Read results that don’t appear to be relevant. See how many pages deep your particular search actually goes and read some pages deep in the results. Not only that, don’t rely completely and totally on Google. There are plenty of other good search engines out there, and using more than one search engine can sometimes provide for some interesting results.

    Sucks being young sometimes because you think that you’re invincible, yet it sometimes appears that the entire Universe is trying to kill you. If the Universe was trying to kill you, it’d prolly just cut off your oxygen supply, water supply and/or food supply, and be done with it. Or maybe toss an asteroid at Earth. Or maybe make our Sun explode.You’ll find your balance of when you can and cannot push yourself.

    Good luck, and hang in there. 🙂

    1. A deeper research is always helpful, yes! I think the first step is not to be suspicious of everything:) Then, if something is really bothering us, I prefer going to the doctor than asking google. if I have to ask google, I try to read more than I used to as you said because of my previous experiences:)

  4. Google can be tricky, especially with health matters. People get anxious. They make bad choices. They hear hoofbeats and think zebras not horses. It’s always important to be a critical consumer: Google and other search engines makes that imperative. On the positive side, you can find props. Things that can make you feel better about yourself, communities. Random bits of cool information. The problem is we tend to regard things like Google as neutral. They aren’t.

    1. I think they are neutral in the sense that we can find everything. But some things may be more than others and some things may have more dire consequences than others. In that sense, it is not. I still try to focus on the good things, though.

  5. If anxiety is the cause, then I use google to be relieved of it – have a problem, google it, get an answer, blah blah, problem solved.

    Secondly, I really do NOT google everything. Since you are in research, you’d know that if I need to know about a topic, the authentic way is to get a study book or a research paper/journal on it – best would be the ones that the respective students or professionals would read BECAUSE googles are mostly opinions.

    So when should we google ?
    When the question is rare.
    When the answer is statistical.
    When the website is known.

    1. Good one! I think most (including me) sometimes get too lazy and want to get ready-made information from Google.
      And yeah, most things on Google are opinions rather than facts. We should always keep that in mind.

  6. Very true! I was an avid Googler until something like this happened. Now I just rely on doctors for information and do not become an armchair physician lol!
    To add – I have had richer travel experiences by following guide books vs. internet travel information which is crowd sourced.
    Good luck with the conference. You will do well.

  7. I don’t google anything. They might well give you the results you want, chances are they will misunderstand your question though. They will always record where your questioning has taken others. A PhD is seeking the unknown so I’m not sure how they can help. My advice. Study for yourself. Your supervisor is in your corner but you have to be the first to turn it. Remember the qualification is not you. You are the only person today to pose that question. Where does it lead you? Telling others is why you get the reward. Mine is, today you agreed to follow me. Thank you.

    1. I think Google can be helpful but we should not jump to conclusions. For things like study/work patterns, I think it is good to get an idea about the general patterns from Google but the main chunk of burden should be on trial-and-error method. We should see for ourselves. Thanks for the comment!

  8. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this article! It’s so easy to go to “Dr. Google” and take that as “From God’s mouth to your ear” sort of thing. But here’s the caveat…. a lot of that stuff is sponsored – so OF COURSE it’s going to be biased. A lot of articles about how much you should be doing are based on numbers that are skewed to make things appear a certain way. And everything medical has to tel you to see your doctor or you’re going to die because of potential liability.
    I admit it – when I have a question, I look it up. I look at the sources, the logic, the whole mess – and then I figure out where this serves me – not the guy next door, not the woman 3000 miles away. It’s great to have as a resource, but like any resource, it has it’s faults.

    1. Well-said! Admittedly, I still look it up too, because it is easy. But I try not to believe everything. As you say, I try to make a logic out of it. I think we cannot avoid Google, so we have to learn how to make better use of it. Also, we can try to still prioritize other sources of information, such as actual doctors.

      1. Absolutely! Although, I have found that researching symptoms of something can actually help me to give my doctors the clues they need to find the cause or cure. It’s a lot to handle, but I’ve been known to take medical textbooks into an appointment and say “Look. This is what I have and these are known issues related to it.” Nope, I’m not bossy at all!

  9. They say, jokingly, one doesn’t need to send a resume to Google if they want to work there because Google already knows everything about you. lol

    I use duckduckgo on Firefox. It’s much more private!

    1. Hi Mark! Thank you so much for your comment (not googling is hard, I know) and the nomination! This site is contributed to by a team of authors, so I (Betul) cannot accept it personally. You might want to ask Bogdan himself, though.

      1. Hi Betul,
        Ah I see 🙂 Sorry – I did not know you were a team. In this case, the nomination is for all of you because I just love your articles :)))

        Thank youuu



  10. My husband swears that every symptom you Google leads to cancer. I’d have to agree. Did that recently and got cancer as the most likely outcome. Did not help my frame of mind. Turned out, my tooth was merely infected and had to come not. Not fun. But way better than cancer.
    I still tend to Google everything. Guess it’s just in my nature. But it’s wise to take it all with a grain of salt, as they say.
    Great post!

  11. Hi, Betul. You might have noticed that I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks, but now I’m back and ready to re-engage.

    There is no one-size-fits-all approach to living. We are all individuals and so we all have very unique needs and work habits. Like you, when I was younger, I used to compare myself to others a lot. I generally got down on myself when I did this. I found, while making my comparisons, that I was not as successful as the other person or that I wasn’t a rich as he or she was. This a very unhealthy. And it can give one complexes of all sorts. By the way, I still do this some, but I always battle against such tendencies when they crop up.

    Let your body and mind tell you how much work and study and relaxation you need. I trust my intuition more and more as I get older and older. We have a very wise part of ourselves that knows everything about everything about how we must and should live. This voice grows stronger as we develop more self-knowledge, self-mastery, and self-awareness.

    1. Hi Troy! I was on a break too, hence the late reply. I think I have similar tendencies too and I am trying to battle them or channel them now. And I was also noticing that my intuitions are more in the center of my decision-making now and I think this habit will grow in time. It is good to hear from you that this change works and I will try to pursue it as much as I can!

  12. Of course, everyone says don’t diagnose yourself on Google.
    There is also the problem of being addicted to instantaneous answers available by typing in the search bar instead of exercising your brain and remembering the answer yourself – I fall prey to this a lot, and even interrupt conversations to chase down answers to trivial things – words and ideas that popped up in the conversation, but weren’t as important as HAVING the conversation, and became a distraction. Don’t do this…

    1. What does this sound familiar to me? I do this too, although I worked on it for a while and I am better at focusing on the conversation.
      I think you made a very good point there with us searching for quick answers. That is a very big reason why we are addicted to googling everything. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. It does give me anxiety when I google my symptoms…the conclusion is always You are going to die or Go to the doctor. However, I find that useful if I have some irregularities, and then I can find interview with specialists who explained that this normal and that you should not worry unless x,y,z. This allowed me to skip the doctor instead of going there when I have the slightest problem. I think I will keep googling whenever I feel like it, even if it gives me anxiety at times, it also allows to make me think and making better decisio. Besides,ressourcefullness is such an assset nowadays, you cannot not use Google. How dumb would you seem if you ask a question to someone and that answer was already on internet ? So many people, will tell you directly “just google it”. And then you are like “ok, I guess I am not making conversations then”. However, I can understand their point of view as I am getting really annoyed when people ask me about my country, and I think “they should know that”, I am tempted to say “just google it”, but I am trying to make conversation and hopefully educate them. In a nutshell, I think it is important to use this tool tha we have literrally at the tip of our fingers, that allows me to leave you a comment today, but when we do, we need to do it cleverly.

    1. Very good point! There is no escaping from Google and we should not. We just need to learn how to use it in a way that will not make us unhappy. With symptoms, Google might be helpful but oftentimes, they list similar symptoms for small illnesses as well as more serious illnesses. This might be true, but that range in illnesses might be confusing and anxiety-inducing. I like Google and I use it. I think I am just cautious with symptoms.

  14. Though I don’t mean to imply any specific religious observation, I can’t help but think of how often the Internet and Google remind me of the biblical passage where man is told not to eat the from the tree of knowledge.
    Granted there are many advantages to the Net, but also the disadvantages as described in this post, along with many misleading, mistaken and potentially confusing bits of dubious data.
    This reminds me of a TV Commercial, where a woman says “Well, you can’t put it on the internet if it’s not true.”
    Her companion replies “Where’d you read that?”
    Her response: “On the internet.”

    Seek peace (and a modicum of data short of overload),


    1. Nice exchange! I find this to be especially the case with symptoms, probably because the same symptoms may be symptoms of small illnesses and more serious ones. But that is an overall issue with the net and we need to be careful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  15. Haha. We just had an issue with Googling medical information this week. We always ask the doctors that we trust for the truth thankfully. It can definitely get you into trouble sometimes. Kudos for recognizing that you work in a different way than those around you, and for honoring that difference.

  16. Totally agree with this!

    Depending on Google for answers is probably not the best. I’ve typed in lots of “How to …” queries and found that the answer wasn’t useful; either very outdated help or complete nonsense all-together. I like that your article adds some awareness to it!

      1. Glad it’s of help!

        Btw I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, but after searching on Google I’ve made it a new habit to modify it by clicking Tools > Any Time > Past Year

        I have no idea why Google thinks articles from 2013 are as relevant in 2020! (knowing them there’s prob a reason for it though)

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