The Road to Hell Is Paved with Missed-Placed Intentions

A friend recently texted me about the spelling of the phrase “missed placed.” He’d received an email from a man who was apologizing for his tardy response, claiming that he had “missed placed” my friend’s email address.

Finding the spelling a little odd, my friend plugged the phrase into Google and found that “missed placed” is indeed correct—or at least in common usage. I let him know that, unfortunately, many of the folks online have “missed placed” their dictionaries and that many Google wrongs, as reliable as they may seem, don’t always make a right.

I admit—it’s easy to be seduced by the staggering amount of information on the web. In an ideal world, the answer to your every question would appear in the first 10 results.

The truth is this line of thinking could get you into hot water, literally.

One snowy Saturday night, I noticed a small amount of moisture leaking from my hot water tank. Not an emergency, I thought. I can wait until Monday to call a plumber. But what for? I’ll just watch an online video. Turns out, all I have to do is open the pressure relief valve at the top of the tank, easy enough to find, and then . . .

Scalding-hot water is spraying across my basement and I can’t make it stop. Now I really need a plumber.

Half an hour later, sporting gum boots and standing in a rising bath of basement grime, I humbly explain to the plumber that I found an article and a video clip online, and followed the instructions. The man smiles—why not, he’s charging me double for coming out in the middle of a snowstorm on a Saturday night—and says, “That’s how I make all my money—the Internet and do-it-yourself books.”

Lesson learned. Just because you read it online doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. Call a plumber, open a dictionary, cross-check your results with reliable sources.

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