As many of you who know me know, I am easily entertained. Granted, the things I find entertaining are often considered odd. For example, the general population wouldn’t find it entertaining to run long distances without being chased by a pack of hungry wolves or zombies. (As an aside, I’ve found that zombies don’t really run so don’t worry about being able to outrun them. You can.) Most people wouldn’t find crawling on their bellies to get the “best” blurry picture (#moraning) of their pet a good use of their time, either. I’m not sure why, but it’s true. And, finally, as a third example (and the topic of this month’s blog) I’m pretty sure most folks wouldn’t spend a lot of time engaged in what I like to call “Google Voyeurism.”
What, you may ask, is “Google Voyeurism?” Well, I like to dress it up sometimes and pretend what I’m doing is “Anthropological/Sociological Fieldwork” by looking at current trends in Internet searches as they pertain to personal/topical issues or areas of interest. But really what I’m doing is peeking into other people’s lives to see what they’re searching for on Google. It’s perhaps weird – I admit it. But it’s also really fascinating.
The key is to start with open-ended beginnings to questions. One of my favorites (particularly when I’m looking for guidance) is to start with “What should I …” And that’s all you need to do to get started because immediately, suggested search terms pop up based on recent or popular searches. For example, last night’s suggestions for “What should I” provided these results:
- What should I major in
- What should I watch on Netflix
- What should I eat
- What should I read next
- What should I weigh
- What should I make for dinner
- What should I draw
- What should I do
- What should I do today
- What should I do with my life
Fascinating, don’t you think? Just in the scope of what people want to know, it’s an interesting list. But taking it to an even deeper level, what does this say about our First World wants? Our needs? Our desires? (I say First World because I’m pretty sure people in developing nations aren’t concerned with what to watch on Netflix or asking Google what they should do with their day.)
An even more telling list, I would argue, is what one gets when they type in “How do …” I say it’s more telling because, when left open-ended, the term seems to speak to our fears – particularly as it pertains to health. Again, this was last night, but when I typed “How do” into the search bar, that is what I got:
- How do you get pink eye
- How do you get bed bugs
- How do you roll
- How do you get ringworm
- How do I love thee
- How do I get a passport
- How do you get scabies
- How do I get the new emojis
- How do you authorize a computer for iTunes
Again, what do these results suggest about what we want … what we’re thinking about and how we’re using technology?
And then, finally, my third favorite search term – that one that seeks to answer the eternal question of “why.” I find this one particularly interesting because it’s never as much about the big questions of life as it is about (at least last night) our pets. Check out the results for “Why do.”
- Why do we yawn
- Why do dogs lick
- Why do dogs sit on cats
- Why do men cheat
- Why do people snore
- Why do we dream
- Why do dogs howl
- Why do dogs eat grass
- Why do cats purr
- Why do fools fall in love?
So what have I accomplished with all of this? Not a lot. Not really. If anything, it just speaks to the complexity and quirkiness of our species. Whether it’s “Google Voyeurism” or “Anthropological/Sociological Fieldwork,” the things we search for provide interesting snapshots of what people are thinking, doing and worrying about. On a personal note, the topic I find sadly absent in the “What Should I” list is what to do if one finds a dead body (or zombie) while on a run. I think this is a vital and necessary concern and I intend to start searching for it every hour until it posts as the number one question.
That said, until next month, be good, take care of each other and know that I will be watching your search terms.