A love letter

I have a whole relationship with Google. Even my partner knows that if he ever tells me anything that I’m uncertain about the first place I’ll head to is Google. We often forget the power that the internet has and the way social media has brought us closer but one thing I stay appreciating is that my thirst to constantly learn new things stays being met with exactly what I want via Google Search. Whether it’s about a new kink I’m unfamiliar with (I found out that I was curious about knife-play via Google), a concept for a poetry class that I need clarity on (what even is a neologism?) or simply avoiding awkward silences by double-checking the definition of a word before I use it. One of my favourite responses to give people is, “Google has the answers”.

Hell, the reason I’m studying what I am is because Google had the answers. People who follow me on Twitter know that I have a huge love for South African Sign Language (SASL) and am currently in my first year of my masters in the same field. One of my favourite classes during my undergrad were the Deaf Culture ones, where we were taught Deaf history as well as the dos and don’ts of being a hearing person within a relatively new area of study in South Africa. One of the stand-outs of these classes was when we were taught about linguistic human rights – how Deaf people have for so long struggled with accessibility to many basic services (such as going to the doctor) as a result of violations on their linguistic human rights. 

I, of course, took to the Googles to try figure out what this was and why I felt so strongly about it. At the time I was a third year student, taking Psychology, English and was a part of the International Human Rights Exchange program at Wits. The IHRE course challenged and opened me up in a way that I didn't realise until I was on Google searching for a way to join my love for Sign Language and human rights. This went on for months, with me discovering how little research was do with and for Deaf women - being a woman who was slowly discovering my way in Feminism, what better way to live that than to work with other women? 

Come 2014, in my first research class for my honours degree in SASL, I was the most prepared student. With my notes on why I wanted to begin researching the experiences of Deaf women with human rights in South Africa - something that was never done before – I was able to share with my classmates and supervisor why this was necessary. I went on to find out how important this research was when the answers I found on Google were confirmed by the Deaf women I worked with. Many of them struggled with accessing basic services, struggled when reporting anything to the police and they also found education to be a hindrance. I was constantly on the Googles, finding which research methods work best, the ethical clearances of my qualitative research as well as how to position myself within the research as a hearing (and thus privileged) person. This was during my honours year, I'm currently in my first year for my MA and I can only imagine how much work I have to do with a bigger group of Deaf women for the next two years. Google is by my side though and I know that the answers will keep coming via searches, explorations and the questions I never run out of. 

You must be wondering why I keep weaving Google in my post. No fronting but I adore Google. And the people over there asked me to run a competition. Just as I’ve told you this story, I’d like you to share your #MyGoogleStory with me and win a dope Google hamper, worth over R5000. All you have to do to stand a chance of getting it is tell me about a time Google did the damn thing for you - did Google Maps help you get to a date you were sure you'd be late for? Has the Google App ever helped you avoid embarrassment by malapropism (Google it)? It doesn’t need to be as long as mine, but do make sure it’s great, the winning stories also stand a chance of getting featured in Elle magazine. You have until the 16th of May 2016 to @ me in your stories, make sure you don't leave that #MyGoogleZA hashtag out! Twitter, Facebook, Instagram - get at me. 

This is what will be in your hamper:

·         R250-00 Google Play Vouchers

·         Google Cardboard (https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/)

·         Selfie Stick

·         Power banks

·         Google Headphones

·         iKnow Board Game

·         Sony Xperia device

My winner has been confirmed! Congratulations to Ayanda Nene, I hope you love and enjoy that amazing Google hamper, not to mention your brand spanking new Xperia device. Xperia - more than a smartphone! Innovative technology, packed with entertainment, powered by Android.