The Searchers

“Although the Internet could be making all of us smarter, it makes many of us stupider, because it’s not just a magnet for the curious. It’s a sinkhole for the gullible. It renders everyone an instant expert. You have a degree? Well, I did a Google search!” 
― Frank Bruni

If you clicked into this narrative hoping to find anything related to one of my all-time favorite John Wayne movies, I’m sorry. Instead, let’s scratch the surface of search engines and those who utilize them.

Most dictionaries define a search engine as “a program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.” In this day and age, we’d be hard pressed to find many individuals who have not, at one time or another, turned to a search engine for information, regardless of how accurate. In fact, many a dispute in the Lawrence household has resulted in Mrs.Lawrence yelling “JUST GOOGLE IT!” (Ultimately, if Google doesn’t provide the answer she was hoping for, we’d have to move on to a different search engine.) Yes folks, there are other search options out there. Here’s a list of the top 10 in the world, in the order of use:

Google (far and away No. 1 in the world)

Bing (Microsoft)

Yahoo (seriously?)

Ask.com (ask and ye shall receive)

AOL (generally restricted to those over 65)

Baidu (most popular in China)

WolframAlpha (for those who found a use for algebra later in life)

DuckDuckGo (claims to be the only 1 not tracking us)

Internet Archive (nice tool if you want to know what a website looked like back in 1996)

Yandex.ru (most popular in Russia and most likely to install malware).

In December 2018, Google found itself in some hot water with the House Judiciary Committee. They were unhappy with privacy issues and the fact that an image search of the word “idiot” resulted in multiple pictures of Donald Trump and they summoned CEO Sundar Pichai for answers. The hearing ultimately ended with members of Congress still having no idea how algorithms, or the internet in general, work. What wasn’t discussed is that similar searches on the above-listed engines, including the Chinese and Russian, also return Trump images. (Exception being WolframAlpha, because….algebra, and Internet Archive because Trump apparently was totally irrelevant in 1996.)

So, what DID people really search for on the No. 1 search engine in the world? The results are broken down by category and provide a somewhat distressing snapshot of humanity.

Searches:

  • World Cup
  • Hurricane Florence
  • Mac Miller
  • Kate Spade
  • Anthony Bourdain
  • Black Panther Movie
  • Mega Millions Results
  • Stan Lee
  • Demi Lovato
  • Election Results

News:

  • World Cup
  • Hurricane Florence
  • Mega Millions
  • Election Results
  • Hurricane Michael
  • Kavanaugh Confirmation
  • Florida Shooting
  • Royal Wedding
  • Olympic Medal Count

People:

  • Demi Lovato
  • Meghan Markle
  • Brett Kavenaugh
  • Logan Paul
  • Khloe Kardashian
  • Eminem
  • Urban Meyer
  • Ariana Grande
  • Rick Ross
  • Cardi B

How To:

  • How to vote
  • How to register to vote
  • How to play mega millions
  • How to buy Ripple
  • How to turn off automatic updates
  • How to get the old Snapple back
  • How to play Powerball
  • How to buy Bitcoin
  • How to screen record
  • How to get Boogie Down emoticon

And there you have it. Apparently, the image search of “idiot” didn’t make any top 10 lists. And thankfully, searches pertaining to voting edged out the ever popular request of “How to buy Ripple”. Also, none of the popular searches are going to settle any disputes in the Lawrence household. I did however have to Google several of the people on the list, thus adding to the 2019 totals.

Go figure.

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