This has become a common phrase online and more recently it has been popping up in conversations about social issues such as sexism or racism. Marginalized people are answering questions with “Google it” instead of links or drawn out explanations. This is happening because marginalized people are tired of being responsible for the education of people who claim they want to help.
Online, especially, we are met with heated conversations about social justice issues. Wage inequality, racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, trans issues, etc. and unlike when these conversations happen in the wild, online there is a higher occurrence of people who are not aware of these realities or only passably educated on them.
Which is to say, many of the people that we engage with in these issues don’t know much about these issues. But they, sometimes, want to learn. The response of “Google it” may seem counterintuitive, why would you say that when someone wants to learn?
The answer is very simple. They say that because it is not their job to teach anyone about these topics. If you have been made aware of them, there is no reason you can’t utilize the ample resources found online to become more familiar with the history, terms, and current trends.
People have no problem looking up the specs of a washing machine or car online but tell them they need to do their own research to become a more educated ally and suddenly, you’re shutting them out.
There’s also an undercurrent of supremacy in this attitude, that it is up to the marginalized person to teach you something, to spend time and educate you instead of you going out and doing the work yourself. Many people would be happy to help, I write this blog, free to view, about many of these issues, for example. In many cases, however, the person asking wants the person they are speaking with to do all the heavy lifting. Which is why they get “Google it.”
It may not seem that way to the person asking, it may seem innocent, just a question but being asked the same things over and over again, being expected to provide proof is exhausting. And the people claiming to want to help should try to take some of that burden instead of adding to it.
There are also ample cases where people are questioning marginalized groups not to educate themselves but to belittle them. They are antagonizing people who are attempting to speak up and belittling their lived experiences and “Google it” is a form of protection. If the person you are speaking to does not know you well, you may be coming off not as a curious person but someone who is trying to derail and bury the discussion.
To be fair, there is a lot of information out there on the internet. It’s what makes it great and terrible. But by doing some of the legwork on your own, you’re already being a better ally. Going into a conversation with some knowledge and questioning the specific things that you struggle to understand is far preferable than asking to be spoon fed an education in marginalization.
If you really want to be a better ally then honestly the best thing you can do is Google it.