Information on Hyper-drive
John Norberg, humor columnist s

Back in olden days like the early 1990s life was very confusing. The way we lived was entirely different from today.

In those days when people had questions the only way to find an answer was to go to a library and research. Since that took too much time and too much work we just let it go and drifted along in blissful ignorance.

Today things are quite different. Today the Internet will answer all the vital life questions that we need to know in order to make our existence more meaningful and manageable: Did Jimmy Stewart win an Oscar (yes); what was President Hebert Hoover's middle name (Clark); how many programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb (none, that's a hardware problem).

The Internet tells us how to cook the food we bought for dinner, how to deal with a difficult boss (37.5 million Google results on that one), and even how to find a lifelong mate (198 million Google results).

We can search for everything on the Internet. I Googled "how to search the Internet" and got 1.35 billion results, which is much more than I needed to know.

Clearly we live in the age of over-information.

And much of what we learn on the Internet is wrong. In fact, I got 6.3 million Google results for "misinformation on the Internet." So, the truth is we actually live in the age of over-misinformation, which leaves us even more confused than in olden days when we didn't know anything and were satisfied with that.

The other day our front load washing machine leaked water all over the floor.

Wife: "We should call a repairman."

Me: "Nonsense! I can do this myself. I'll just Google the problem on the Internet, find out how to do it and I'll have it fixed in a jiffy."

Wife: "Our laundry is backed up. We need this washer as soon as possible."

I went to the study and got on the Internet. First I checked on CNN and a couple other news sites. Then I watched a few episodes of "Doc Martin," a British TV show, on Hulu. That made me curious about the show's location in Cornwall, England. After about two hours of searching the Internet about Cornwall and the best places to holiday in the British Isles I finally got around to Googling "front load washer leaks." I got 297,000 results.

Not being as interested in washer leaks as I am Cornwall, I clicked on the first leak site and decided to do whatever it said. It suggested I had a bad gasket, so I Googled "how to replace a front load washer gasket" and received 1.12 million results in a quarter of a second.

That enormous response in so little time got me curious about the speed of light. So I Googled "speed of light," which got me curious about other some other things until I realized that even "Science for Dummies" cannot explain e=mc2 so that I can understand it.

Finally I got around to the repair job.

First the Internet told me the tools I would need, none of which I had, so I went to the store to buy washing machine repair tools I will never again use in my life. Hopefully.

"To access the gasket," the instruction said, "it is necessary to open the door."

What a stupid thing to say! But I opened the door to the house anyway. I thought maybe you needed cool air for this job or something.

The next step was to take the washing machine entirely apart. And I mean entirely. I wasn't counting on this just to remove a gasket. Taking the panels off the washing machine required loosening 43 screws, many of them located in back of the machine where it was difficult to reach them. Others were on the bottom of the washer where it was impossible to get at them without drilling a hole into the basement and coming up from below. But that's another story.

Next, the Internet said, remove the bad gasket. "Be aware this may require some effort. Use eye protection." It was at that moment that I knew for certain that I was doomed. But I was too far into this to go back. I'd spent two days working on this, including the time I spent messing around the Internet.

I went to a store, bought the new gasket and put it on. Next, I carefully followed the Internet instructions on how to put the machine back together.

When I was finished the washer didn't look anything at all like it had when I started.

I turned the washer on. And Lo and Behold!!! It leaked water all over the floor.

Wife: "You trusted getting our clothes washed to the Internet? You know the Internet is full of bad information. Now we're going to have to waste more time waiting for a repairman and it will cost us twice as much to fix the damage you've done."

I went to the study and Googled "how to get yourself out of your wife's doghouse." I got 67.9 million results and started reading.

I think I'm going to need them all.

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