Who used to have the Encyclopaedia Britannica at home? Who remembers when libraries had microfiches and index cards?
That is how we used to access information on the capital of Rwanda, history of the Sorbian language, crop rotation in the 14th century, etc.
Nowadays: we have people asking the hive mind on Facebook.
I’m on several Facebook pages:
- Expat in Germany
- Creative writing
- Pitcairn Island
- Pitcairn Island
- Planet Pluto
- Many, many more…
Most of the groups are good fun, eg learning about the postal history of Planet Pluto, or something like that… I like to read the posts and contribute when others ask questions.
Today, while staring out of the window on the tram today, I coined a new acronym:
JFGI (Just Flipping Google It)
At least I thought it was new. However, it did already exist, as mentioned in Urban Dictionary.
Years ago, I used to be a supply teacher. The number of times I’d be asked,
Sir, what’s this word mean?
My reply would be:
Have you looked in the back of the book? Have you looked in the dictionary? No, then do it, and tell me what the answer is. I am not here to spoonfeed you.
That was with 13 year olds from some of the rougher parts of Teesside.
Fast-forward to the year 2020.
FSQ’s (Flipping Stupid Questions) such as:
Where is the British Consulate in this city?
I decide to relent. I decide to send the enquirer the Consulate URL.
I then get supplementary FSQ’s…
What are the opening hours? How do I get there by public transport? How much is the train fare? Can I reclaim my train fare? Do I need to make an appointment? Can you come with me to the Consulate tomorrow at 9am? I need a helper with officialdom.
Umm, guess what… JFGI. And no, I am not at the beck and call of bone idle strangers. I am not here to spoonfeed you…
Further questions from other groups come on an hourly basis.
Can you tell me about German history?
In a very polite English way, I reply:
German history is long, rich and complex. What specifically do wish to know?
In hindsight I should have just replied…
Another question comes from would be Dostoyevskys.
How do I write a perfect novel? I want to write my autobiography. What should I write about? How much should I charge for my book?
I decide not to reply. I just think: JFGI.
These are questions from grown adults, not 13 year olds from the rough end of Teesside.
Then there are the ridiculously picky requests, not quite needing a JFGI response. The enquirers tend to PM me, addressing me as “Sir”, or send me friend requests. These are along the lines of:
Where in this city can I find an French-speaking dentist who speaks the language with an Albanian accent? I need someone urgently to carry out root canal treatment on my Jack Russell puppy, who is scared of anyone who does not speak French to him.
Can anyone help me to find an apartment in this city? My budget is 400€ per month. I need a place from next week. Who can come with me tomorrow at 11:00 to view an apartment?
You get the idea. Give me strength…
I feel like the help desk guy in this clip.
Have an self-starting day, won’t you!