Who is our best friend these days? Who is it we trust implicitly, confide our most innermost doubts and fears, our most private questions? Believe it or not, the answer that increasing is: the internet, specifically Google. Google is undoubtedly the most popular search engine on the net. None other comes close to it. Of course, Google does not answer questions personally. But for any question, it seems, there are a large number of answers floating around on the web. Google faithfully collects them and bring them to you.

Trusted FriendIf you are not the kind who delete their browser’s internet history, regularly, anyone who has access to your machine can get a close idea of what makes you tick, simply by browsing the list. It can reveal, for instance what your last grocery order was, where you are planning to go on holiday, which sites you visit the most, what is your most private doubts, and other stuff which you would never tell anyone. The internet, seemingly, offers the ultimate privacy to air these thoughts. That is not true however unless your computer is protected by a complicated password, and you never leave it logged in.

Initially, the internet was regarded as an encyclopedia, but it seem to have morphed into our closest confidant. Google holds your most intimate data. Unfortunately, there are many ways of tracking your internet usage. Your internet service provider can do it easily. There is this probably questionable story that an ISP who tracked a customer’s searches and found these questions in this order. Over a few weeks they went from “pregnancy vitamins” to “marriage counselling” to “abortion clinics”. It rivals in pathos the “six-word tragedy” attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn”, a complete tragedy in six words.

Says Luciano Floridi,the Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the Oxford Internet Institute, “Someone once said what you look for is way more telling than information about yourself – this is something that Google and other search engines found out a long time ago.” Future generations will understand what we are as a society, simply by looking at what we searched for. If you don’t believe that, just take the example of googling for a job applicant to find out what sort of a person he really is. It’s a self-energizing loop. The answer we get to our questions are altering our self-perception.

who is your best friendThere are times we depend too much on the answers thrown up by Google. They may not necessarily be correct. It is very important that we realize that. The internet is non-regulated, and it should be, that and the spawning of myriad blogs also means any crank can write any rubbish on the net, and they do. It is up to us to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You may be asking about the holiday you are planning to take. You could ask your circle of friends, but few have ever visited say, Maldives, Seychelles or Beijing. The site called Tripadvisor will give you thousands of people giving you advice on your specific question. Unless you are careful, you would end up confused by contradictory information. Besides the people may not be your kind, or may have an axe to grind.

Depend on how it is presented, the wrong information could spread like a virus. Harping too long on such info can lead to a bad case of what is known as cyberchondria: unreasonable concerns about your health from misleading information on the web. A celebrate example is of looking up “chest pains”. Most often it is muscle strain, but on the first mention of “heart attack” or “lung cancer” could bring on a panic attack in the more gullible people.

So don’t fall for everything you read. The best strategy is probably to start with Wikipedia or authoritative sites like patient.co.uk a site maintained by two general practitioners. But for heaven’s sake, don’t depend on everything you read on the net.

Who Is Your Most Trusted Friend? Is It a Person, Or the InternetAarti InformaticsINTERNETLOVE & FRIENDSRELATIONSHIPTECHNOLOGYbest friend,find a friend,find friends,how to make friends,i need friends,internet,internet friend,looking for friends,need a friend,self-perception,trusted friendWho is our best friend these days? Who is it we trust implicitly, confide our most innermost doubts and fears, our most private questions? Believe it or not, the answer that increasing is: the internet, specifically Google. Google is undoubtedly the most popular search engine on the net. None...Daily News, News Magazine, Online Magazine