How many times do we think the phrase “Just Google It” is said daily during various conversations? Well, this phrase is applicable to all different kinds of situations thanks to the advanced search that Google is capable of. Instead of brainstorming other ways to figure out how to find information, people rely on the brainy search engine to hand them the answer to just about any question or topic they are wondering about. We have seen Google become more and more prominent in our lives as time has gone on. I remember in elementary and middle school, Google was not a search engine that was considered “respectable” for finding out information we needed to know for academic assignments. Now, it is just the opposite. Google can lead to the most trusted, reliable essays, scholarly articles, and books to answer any research question. I depend on Google Scholar to open the doors to all kinds of useful information when I am completing a project or essay for school. Essays and research projects aside, I depend on Google for any random question that pops into my head.
Google has especially been helpful during my time studying abroad. I can research reviews of restaurants, where to go if I want to experience an incredible hike, and what activities I should do when I travel to various places on the weekends. These searches represent my now: constant questioning of what to do, where to go, and how to find the most enjoyment and fulfillment in my experiences abroad. Google searches represent our now as a society. In an article written by two employees at Google in California, Hyunyoung Choi and Hal Varian explain how Google Trends data helps in “…predicting the present” (1). How amazing is that? Now, we can see exactly how much the news and media affect our society and not just assume. Sure, news channels can broadcast pieces and know they are reaching millions and millions of people. But how can they know for sure that these pieces are sticking with the minds and hearts of the viewers? That is where Google Trends comes in—the searches that people make are a reflection of the topics and events that they have come across and cannot seem to move past.
Right now people are taken aback by the fact that Donald Trump claimed there was a terrorist attack in Sweden, when in fact, there wasn’t. That information is visible here. This clearly reflects a surge of confusion and shock regarding the president of the United States.
On the other hand, “Zoe Saldana” is trending today because she just gave birth to her third child. This search represents a whole different side the values and interests in society today.
Google searches reflect the values, beliefs, stability and focus of society every day. And every day those things are changing. Google Trends shows the dramatic rise and gradual downfall of topics of interest in society. This poses another question– what does this general pattern of sharp rises and falls in trending topics indicate about society today?
- CHOI, Hyunyoung; VARIAN, Hal. Predicting the present with Google Trends. Economic Record, 2012, vol. 88, no s1, p. 2-9.