On the Internet, everyone is a seeker. We go online, type a word or phrase in Google and click “search”. Perhaps we are looking for something specific: the best price on a certain item, a train schedule, the precise meaning of a word. But many times, I suspect, we consult search engines as if they were an oracle, a Ouija board, or the I Ching, a phenomenon that Google playfully acknowledges with its “I’m feeling lucky” button. Maybe we Google stuff because, in that moment, we are either at a loss as to what else to do, moved by some unnameable compulsion, or seeking reassurance that others share our quirks, questions and obsessions.
As this blog approaches its first anniversary, I was curious how global seekers came upon my eclectic sliver of the Internet. Some search words are common, some phrases unusual, others extremely specific. But since most of these visitors never left a comment, I’m left to wonder: what were these people really searching for?
Traffic to my blog increased a great deal thanks to my post on this subject. To my amusement, I discovered a consistent correlation between the search terms “punctuality” and “punctual” and visitors from India. While I don’t have first hand experience of their cultural constructs of time, I suspect that arriving promptly might not be the highest priority. Were these searchers trying to understand the word’s meaning? Were they employees at an American or European-owned company struggling to adapt to a more time bound culture? For the others, did they land at my blog in an attempt to bolster their opinion that punctuality is important (or to refute that view)? Had they argued with their colleagues or bosses over “tardiness at work”? And then there are folks who searched for “pictures of punctuality”. Are they also blogging on this subject? Creating a PowerPoint presentation at their job?
My heart goes out to whoever typed “punctuality is important to me frustrated” and “why can’t people be punctual?” into search boxes. You are not alone. And to the person who asked the Googleverse, “Why would someone not like someone to be punctual?”, I’d like to know if you found an answer and what that is.
Given the number of people searching “past present future” (plus other variations), I’m curious if we live in an era of cosmic confusion about verb tenses, or tension about where to place our attention. It’s easy to miss the moment if one’s mind is dwelling on the past or fretting (or fantasizing) about the future. But, like punctuality, this group of words is focused on time. So perhaps time is the overriding cultural obsession. Still, I would like to know why people spend this precious commodity typing “past present future” into a search engine. If you are one of them, what are you hoping to find?
3) “Spirit of Procrastination” and other random phrases
I’m not sure what either “spirit of procrastination” or “spirit of almost there” really mean, or what was going through the mind of the people who came up with these phrases. Still, I like them, and they seem to be connected. If you’re procrastinating, it’s quite likely that, at best, you’re “almost there” (at worst, you haven’t even started). Another person searched for “potluck dishes alphabetical distribution for parties” and landed here, which probably did not answer their question. Someone simply typed “insane” and must have been the good kind of crazy to have scrolled through dozens of links before reaching my blog. But of the hundreds of search terms that have brought visitors, my favorites are “spiritual causes of limping” (I had no idea such causes might exist) and “à la carte llama”. I wonder how that differs from a prix fixe llama?
Thanks to all who’ve visited, read, commented and shared during the last 12 months. If you just parachuted onto this page and have a moment to spare, please leave a short comment and let me know what brought you here!