I went for a run today. I do most Sundays. My husband had been to the grocery store early in the morning and he said that the local roads were closed for a race. I wondered which race, but I did not readily know. I have yet to enter any local running races this year, and I have not conducted any searches to find out which weekends have races on offer.

IMG_4928As I rounded the corner to the street where the races are most often held I saw several finishers adorned with medals coming my way, and I almost asked, “¿Qué carrera fue?” I talk to random runners all the time, they are about the friendliest bunch of strangers you will ever meet, but I held back. I thought, “That’s a Google-able question.” As I kept my pace, the runners passed me by, as too did the moment.

I understand that telling a student to “Google it” is a means to foster and encourage independence and self-reliance, but I wonder if it comes at a cost of reduced practice with face-to-face communication and the nuanced social cues that go along with it. Social scientists note that we are lonely despite being more connected than ever. Are our suggestions to “just Google it” a part of the problem?

I searched for and eventually found the name of today’s race: Duendes. What I lost forever was the chance to connect with my fellow runners and I can’t get that particular moment back. I will strive to become more selective with my ‘just Google it’ responses to teacher and student questions aimed at me. You never know when a ‘what’ question is being posed not out of the asker’s dependence upon you, but as a means to start a conversation and make a connection with you.