The Internet Doesn't Have All the Answers

The internet's great...for what it is.

When I was trying to conceive each baby, I scoured the internet for every single article I could find on the topic.  Especially during the infamous two-week wait, I’d read any article I could about pregnancy symptoms, and take any quiz called “Are You Pregnant?”

I couldn’t help it.  I needed a distraction, and I was somehow convinced — especially the first time — that the answers to my question really lay in internet-land.  If I could only find the right article, or the right quiz, it would validate the desperate hope that I had: the desire to be pregnant, and to know right now that I was for sure!

Of course, by the third time around, I really knew: the internet doesn’t have all the answers.

I love the internet.  It’s a great place to interact with others, and in fact to start your research.  The internet provides a lot of unique perspectives and information that you might not find elsewhere.

But the internet has its limitations too.  It can tell you if something is possible.  It can tell you averages, what’s likely to happen.  It can tell you a variety of opinions on any topic — including one to back up your own, whether yours is straight down the middle or out of left field!

For example, right now I’m searching for a new digital camera.  I lost the power cord to my other one, which was 5 years old anyway.  I want to know which one to buy, so I’ve been scouring the internet for information.  I know which brands and models other people like, which have the highest ratings, which features these models have, and so on.  I can learn all of this and lots more on the internet, both by reading informational sites and by talking to others who own various cameras.  But the internet can’t tell me which one is actually best for me

In fact, after I’ve sorted through all this information and narrowed down my selection, I’ll go see friends (in real life) who own the models I’m interested in and ask them what they like and dislike, and if I can try them out for myself.  I’ll go seek an expert in a camera store (a real one, not a ‘big box’ electronics store) and ask their opinion.  And only then will I make the decision about which camera to buy.

This is just a camera.  A few hundred dollar piece of equipment I’ll use for a few years.  It’s not life or death.  If I chose the wrong camera, I could return it and purchase a different one.  Even so, I’m not relying solely on the internet for advice.  It’s a great source of information!  I wouldn’t even have been able to find out what brands and models are good, nor read many reviews, nor narrow down my search before heading out to talk to friends and experts.  It’s significantly shortened the length of my search.  But it doesn’t hold “the answer.”

The same is true for pregnancy and parenting, a topic which is, naturally, a lot more important than a digital camera.  The internet can tell you what’s possible.  It can tell you what others have experienced.  It can be a place of great information and a place to start your research.  It can tell you what questions to ask.  But it doesn’t ever hold “the answer.”  Once you’ve gathered what’s possible, you seek the opinions of friends, doctors, or other more important sources before you make your choice.

And that is as it should be.  Treat the internet as an awesome resource, but don’t take it too seriously. 

I know, for example, that under my circumstances, it’s “possible” that I could have twins (we don’t ‘know’ since I haven’t had any ultrasounds, and I am still measuring about right to slightly large, but just based on how I feel — hey, it could happen, there are stories out there!).  But I don’t believe the internet, it can’t tell us for sure.  After learning it was “possible,” I sought the opinion of my chiropractor — who also came to the conclusion that, given his examination, it was possible.  He recommends seeking my midwives’ opinion on the matter, which we will soon.  Who knows.  We could be entirely wrong, and it sure has been fun to read all the “I didn’t know I was having twins!” stories, but ultimately, the answer lies off the internet.

What do you think?  Do people take the internet too seriously?  How do you use the internet for information?

Top image by kodomut

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