I was extremely alarmed the other day when I saw the news about the new Google cheeseburger emoji – the small icon used in texting, email, etc.
Now, it might sound like a very minor thing when I say it that way, but it’s clear to me that the Google cheeseburger emoji has suddenly out of nowhere become the most important thing in the world.
If you don’t know, Google just released its new set of emojis, and the cheeseburger emoji wasn’t just any old cheeseburger. Google’s burger, amazingly, has the cheese on the bottom.
Now, you may have heard about it or you may not have, but, either way, everyone who sees the new emoji is like, what’s up with that? And people are making jokes about it as though it’s some sort of trivial comic thing. But I assure you it matters a great deal. If you say this is unimportant, it is unimportant in the same way that a dead canary in a coal mine is unimportant: “Who cares – canaries are a dime a dozen and we can just buy another one for the coal mine at the bird store after we finish our shift today.”
Other tech companies don’t have a problem with getting this right; just look at the cheeseburger emojis for any other company. Here are the ones from Apple and Microsoft. The cheese is where it should be.
And McDonald’s knows a thing or two about how to cook a hamburger and they put the cheese on the top. There’s no way to know how many hamburgers McDonalds has sold, but I feel certain it is somewhere in the millions. Now, lets say that a McDonald’s employee just woke up one day and started putting the cheese on the bottom like a crazy person. Everyone would complain and the manager would come out and start yelling, and that nut job would likely be out of a job; but, apparently, if you work at Google, and you mess up like that, no one even bats an eye. In fact, when millions of people pointed out the show-stopping gaff to Google, the tech giant simply stood their ground and tried to pretend it wasn’t a mistake at all.
Now, no one in the history of human kind has ever put the cheese on the bottom of the burger – because it’s horribly messy and the cheese melts on the bun and onto the plate and, frankly, because it’s just plain creepy. I mean, if some couple had you over for dinner and they brought out hamburgers with the cheese on the bottom, you would wonder what else was wrong with the meal and you would make up some story and apologize nervously and excuse yourself from the table because you had a sudden emergency that meant you would not be able to stay for dinner. You wouldn’t know what in the world was going on with the messed up hamburgers – but you certainly wouldn’t stick around to find out.
The big problem is that Google is not just any company. It is the company that keeps all of the world’s knowledge. Google is in charge of maintaining and fact checking the whole repository of all human knowledge in the known universe. So it’s highly disturbing that the company that supposedly knows everything, literally doesn’t even know up from down, or even, apparently, which end is up.
It makes me call into question completely everything I’ve ever thought about the company that I, like you, have relied on for all my knowledge since everyone first started using Google in 1999.
(At least, I assume it was 1999. The way I found that out was that I Googled it, and Google said that Google started in 1999, but who knows – because that same source thinks that cheese goes at the bottom of a cheeseburger. See what I mean! Now you can’t trust anything they say. Who knows when Google started – now there’s no way to know!)
Trust me, I’m not the only one who is worried about Google being completely oblivious to a well known fact – and not even being able to see it and admit it once it’s made known to them. To add insult to injury, when everyone on the internet pointed this out to Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, he tweeted out sarcastically, “Will drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday:) if folks can agree on the correct way to do this!”
OK, (A) that Monday has come and gone and Google still hasn’t fixed the cheeseburger emoji, and (B) it’s not, as Sundar states, a question of whether people have agreed on the correct way to do this already – they absolutely have, and that correct way is WITH THE CHEESE ON THE TOP OF THE BURGER.
I have been writing this column for 15 years and I have never ever before put anything in caps and italics and bolded it, but I just did so in that case because cheese simply does not go on the bottom of a cheeseburger no matter how you slice it. This is not like trying to decide which way the toilet paper goes on the holder, which is a real legitimate question with compelling arguments on both sides.
Once the controversy broke, rather than fix the emoji, as it should have, Google, unbelievably, doubled down in its pretense that it’s acceptable to put the cheese on the bottom – it served cheeseburgers in its employee café with the cheese, you guessed it, on the bottom. It labeled them “Android burgers” and Google employees were expected to eat the bizarre and unsettling concoctions in much the same way that Jim Jones’ followers in Jonestown were expected to drink the Kool-Aid.
Just look at the picture and you can see what a total mess the Android burger is.
Now, I’ve been talking to people about this all week and some have said, “Calm down Scott; it’s just an emoji of a cheeseburger. Nothing at all hangs on it.”
But what I’m saying is that it speaks volumes and it says everything you need to know. It is the proverbial writing on the wall. It is, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” It is like the Seinfeld episode when George likes that women who is great except for the fact that she’s a Nazi, which is kind of a deal breaker.
Listen, as I said, Google is not just any company: It is the keeper of all knowledge in the world. Google has replaced all books and encyclopedias, made school totally irrelevant and now we depend on Google – and, like you, I’ve relied completely on Google since it first came into existence, whenever that was. But now the king has no clothes. The fact that they don’t even know that the cheese goes on the top of the burger calls into question absolutely everything.
It’s like if your heart surgeon came in before your heart surgery and looked at you confidently and said, “Now Mr. Yost, I don’t want you to worry. I have an M.D. from Harvard. I am board certified in cardio-thoracic medicine and trauma surgery. I’ve been awarded citations from seven different medical boards, and I never, ever, made less than an A+ in any of my classes. Now, let me just check your heart,” and he held the stethoscope up and put the round silver part up to his ear and held the earpiece up to your heart and he listened for a while. And then you might say, “Uh, I think you’re supposed to put that end in your ears and the other end on my chest,” and he says, “Well, I am quite certain this is the way it goes. I think I know what I am talking about. I mean, after all, which one of us is the heart surgeon?”
No, no, no. I don’t care who he is: The fact that he doesn’t know which end of a stethoscope goes where tells you absolutely everything you need to know. Likewise for someone who puts the cheese on the bottom of the burger.
I mean, all they have to do is Google it for goodness’ sakes. Every site that comes up will tell you that the cheese goes, of course, up on the top. They are Google – but they don’t even know how to Google something to find out. (Or, just maybe, Google knows they can’t trust Google.)
It makes me question if there is other stuff Google feeds us that is incorrect. Is everything written and posted on the internet really true? Or are we wrong to trust everything we read? Are the internet fact-checkers falling down on the job? Does 1 + 2 + 3 really equal 6 or is the iPhone calculator right and it is 24 after all?
Now there’s simply no way to know anything. Or is there? Who knows?
It may be that we have to go back to using our minds to know what is true or false and I think I speak for all of us when I say that, after nearly two decades of never using our brains once, none of us feel anywhere near equipped to do that.