I like plants. I won’t bore you with reasons why I like them, but I enjoy working with them. However, when the tips of my spider plants go brown, or when pesky gnats start flying around my home, I don’t have someone close to me who I can just send a text message to at 9 pm, asking for solutions.
“But you have Google”.
Absolutely right, and that’s who (or what) I’ve been asking all my plant-related questions in the middle of the night. I’ve spent hours, just scrolling through websites, forums, and blog posts for solutions to any plant woes that I may have.
So, what would I do if there is no Google? I could probably ask my mom.
But her solutions are always trial and error, and I’m trying to avoid the error part – as it usually means dead plants. How many failed propagations do I need to go through before realizing that you can’t water propagate an asparagus fern? Also, she lives 6 hours ahead of me. (Quick search on your favorite search engine and you’ll quickly learn, you can only divide those beautiful ferns in order to get more pots of them.)
Point is, having easy access to (almost) unlimited information at the tip of your fingers simplifies things for us. However, quoting Marian Wright Edelman, in every good seed, there’s a piece of bad. We could all have an endless discussion about the pros and cons of digital media, but I’ll talk about one that (I think) most of us can relate to. Bear with me.
What is accurate?
Let’s key in “how do you care for a monstera deliciosa?” into your search engine, and quickly scan through your search results. You’ll probably see “water once a week”, “let the soil dry out in between watering”, “bright light”, “indirect light”, “wipe leaves with dishwashing detergent” and the list goes on and on and on… But then, what if the soil doesn’t dry out within a week? What do you mean by bright light and indirect light? (SO CONFUSING!) Information is widely available, but a lot of times, it can be so contradicting. I feel this is especially the case when you’re trying to learn a lot about something new.
Take the search result of wiping the leaves with dishwashing detergent, for example. In actual fact, soap in the detergent can strip off the wax on the leaves, which is meant to serve as a protection layer. So, if you need to clean the leaves on your plants, whatever plant you have, water is enough.
Most of the time, you can go through different websites, blogs or forums and ultimately, reach a conclusion on what is right (for you) and what is not. But issues arise when some of us, who, due to reasons of their own, decide to listen/follow on the first thing they read about. It’s not just about plants anymore, it can be about anything that you want to learn about. Fitness, technology, health, politics, anything on the surface of this Earth.
It’s easy to correct a misinformed individual when it comes to simple topics like food recipes or how to water a plant. The danger (for lack of a better word) comes when it’s about topics involving health, news or even politics. That’s when you see your cousin’s friend self-diagnosing her boyfriend with ADHD just because he always seems to distracted by every little thing. Or when you meet this guy on the train who’s convinced that the Pizzagate conspiracy theory was real (I’m open to all opinions!!). It can even be on the simple topic of fitness (since the pandemic brought out the home athlete in most of us) – how sure are you about the form of your squats? (seriously though, bad forms lead to injuries).
To summarize, one of the many impacts of digital media is the convenience and having the abundance of information on any topic of your interests. However, we should all make it a habit to be critical of any information, or do a quick check of that information. Anything we learnt today could even be a small part of a bigger picture, and I don’t see the harm in understanding things as a whole.
I completely agree with the points you have made. Indeed the internet is vast and great but with every bit of information that is true and helpful there is an equal amount of misinformation going around. On the topic of plants, I have used the internet myself to help me in “raising” my venus fly traps. It has mostly helped and i think as you said “Most of the time, you can go through different websites, blogs or forums and ultimately, reach a conclusion on what is right (for you) and what is not.”. Cross referencing information is usually best. And with medical issues and politics we should indeed take everything with a grain of salt, and maybe give something a bit more thought. Reflecting on the argument posed and seeing if it is sufficient enough, in any topic. Great blogpost i hope everyone is as aware as you when it comes to the internet!
Thanks for your comment! I think the best way is to teach awareness is to highlight the importance of being critical when it comes to any sort of information. For now, you just piqued my interest in venus flytraps, and I need to see if I can get one 😀
I really like your narrative, coming from your very personal example of a plant to a more general insight about the web. I generally agree to your conclusion that one must be cautious of information, but it may even go further, as the google suggestions for searches are not completely democratic, and not in a random order. An issue somehow related to your post, I guess. A furher question you could ask is: Why do I see this content and the other?
My way of checking my plants, when in doubt, is sticking my small finger into the dirt and feel if its dry or wet.
Hi! Thanks for your comment! I have to admit, I did not think of the things you put out. Definitely something that should be highlighted, with people being aware of it.
As for your way of checking your plants, there’s no better way than that. 😉
I also check my plants that way. However, as to any other plant owner, some plants have died and to this day I don’t know why a specific plant died. I took so much care of it, and then I saw the same kind of plant, growing outside, where no one’s taking it out of the sun or out of the water. Unbelievable