There is a famous scene from Woody Allen’s Academy Award winning movie Annie Hall that depicts what for many of us would be a fantasy come true.
Standing in a theatre line with Diane Keaton, Woody’s character almost goes into convulsions when he’s forced to overhear a pedantic Columbia University professor’s loud diatribe misinterpreting the work of famed lecturer on the Humanities and Media, Marshall McLuhan. Woody is growing increasingly agitated, to the point he breaks the fourth wall to complain directly to the camera, soon to be joined by the now defensive professor.
Woody then suddenly produces from behind a movie poster McLuhan himself, who sets the guy straight on his misguided opinions. Woody turns to the camera and says, “Wouldn't it be great if life were really like this?"
We’ve all been there. Someone spouts off, incorrectly, on something or someone; misquoting, misinterpreting, misstating their case, but there is no direct conduit to setting the record straight.
Short of producing the physical source from behind a movie poster, there used to be no respite from someone’s inaccurate assertions. You could only feebly argue back, attempting to reach the same level of conviction, or volume level, but with no satisfying conclusion to the exchange.
Well, all that has changed.
Google and its ubiquitous availability now provides instant gratification for those in need of winning arguments, adhering to the truth, or simply scratching their fact-checking itch.
Obviously, typing on your iPhone does not hold the same persuasive power as pulling the source into range to dispute or confirm something first hand, but the end result is almost always the same. The answer is procured.
Google provides an almost instant resolution to quandaries, questions and arguments. Whether a trivial ‘who sang this song?’ query, or a more arcane ‘who was Gerald Ford’s vice president?’ there is a finality and closure now available where there once was not.
Whether to win a bar bet or silence a blowhard, Google is there for all of us.
Thirty five years later, Woody, life is indeed really like this.