When I hosted my radio show a few years ago a favorite segment was to keep track of what the world’s population searched for most often on the internet that particular day. Sometimes this involved callers phoning in to give their idea of the beginning of a funny question, for example, ”How do you…” leaving me to type that into the search box on Google and see what resulted. More often my on-air cohorts came up with their own queries. Which is always rather dangerous. Once I put my foot down that nothing would be asked for a deliberately naughty answer, we moved ahead to mine for that day’s comedy gold.
Look, it’s not like we were doing NPR. We were just trying to kill 6 minutes of airtime before a commercial break for crawl space mold removal or a car dealership.
But it did reveal really interesting glimpses into what humans found necessary to google month after month. And because nothing really interesting has happened this week to write about, I thought I’d revisit those searches and drag you with me by the scruff of your neck.
It’s a fun game, actually, if you find yourself trapped with extended family over Thanksgiving. (You’re welcome. Don’t ever accuse me of not thinking of you, first.)
So here’s what you do: think of the first few words of a question and then ask others, or yourself – in case you’ve managed to alienate your extended family last Thanksgiving and find yourself on your own – to guess the rest of the most sought after question on the internet, then hit search. Ready? Here we go:
“How cold is…..”
While some might finish the search by guessing “a Slurpee” or “Angelina Jolie’s smile,” the most searched for question is actually, “... space?” Which I find rather comforting, really. That shows true curiosity, doesn’t it? Far more than asking “how cold should my beer be?” It’s a poet sort of musing, full of wonder, fantasy…how cold is space? Oh, by the way, it’s — 454.81 Fahrenheit. So might want to pack a puffer jacket.
Feeling optimistic about the collective consciousness of the world, I moved on and typed in an old favorite, “How much…” thinking the rest of the search would reveal something rather opulent, as in “…is an apartment in Paris?” or “…is the Hope diamond worth?” But high blood pressure seemed to be at the forefront of billions of people this week as the most commonly searched question ended up being “…sodium is in two eggs?”
How terribly mundane. Dejectedly, I looked at what was the second most common search for “How much…”
According to Google, it was “…wall has Steve Bannon built?”
I had a half hour to kill before going out to feed the horses and so my rapid fire searches jumped from one surprising result to the next. In no particular order (because, frankly, I can’t be bothered) here’s what the world searched for the most recently:
“How dangerous….is vaping?” Mold and black bears were runners up. I can only imagine how dangerous vaping black bears might be.
“Why can’t….we be friends?” Not sure if it’s just because that was a hit song, but runners up were “I cry?” and “I pee?”
“Who is…Sara A Carter?” Now, the frequency of that search has to be from Ken Burns’ Country Music Documentary. Not that she’s not important, but she topped “…the whistleblower?” by a mile. And besides, a unanimous bipartisan vote made revealing a whistleblower to be against federal law. So watch it.
Sara A Carter showed up again, this time, in second place, right after the winner of “When was…” was asked. The most sought after search resulted in that question ending with: “….Valium introduced?” Seriously? Countless people googled that question this past week? More than who wanted to know when Sara A Carter was born? I know the political atmosphere has been stressful, but even so!
You just can’t tell with people, can you? Fascinating, isn’t it, what drives our imaginations to meander over the keyboard. And sometimes, the answer is right at the end of your nose. Or, at least mine, as I typed in “How stupid….”
I’ll get back to you on that one.