Written by Bob Francis. Originally posted on The Bob Files.
It started out innocently enough. I was looking up information on one single topic. In fact, I was using Google to do so. One of the links just happened to go to Wikipedia. I think you know what happened next.
One article wasn’t enough, of course. There were additional hyperlinks throughout the text. I had to click on some of them; I didn’t understand where the article writer was going in some cases. Those led to other articles. Those articles led to even more. I was led further and further down the garden path.
I bookmarked Wikipedia in my browser. It took longer and longer to write my blog; invariably I’d start writing and then find myself casually – almost unconsciously – loading up Wikipedia on my second monitor. It was important to have it at my fingertips, I told myself. It wasn’t dangerous, it was helpful. It was like Spell Check. It was just a tool.
I had it under control.
Soon, I was looking to Wikipedia for not only answers, but for inspiration as well. I wrote about historical events, mathematics and science. When I wasn’t writing, I used Wikipedia to “broaden myself”. I was spending less and less time in my usual cyber haunts, choosing to spend all my online time navigating through the labyrinth of Wikipedia. I pushed away my friends and family; who likes a know-it-all anyway? I descended into a world of trivia knowledge, public debate and Unitarian Universalism.
I’d like to say that I’m all better now, but it’s not something you can cure with pill or injection. I listen to talk radio and still have the urge to do fact checking. Someone will send me an old clip of Dennis Miller on YouTube and I’ll have to send it to my SPAM filter. Daniel asks me why something is the way it is and my hands start to shake when I realize I don’t know. I watch more television now – TV Land seems to deaden my senses effectively – and I just take it one day at a time.