Friday, October 24, 2008

Google Trends, and the cultural vapidity of the Internet

I watch Google Trends from time to time, mainly to get ideas to blog about.  And what I've been singularly impressed with is the vapidity of most of the top searches.  The top searches at most times are almost always related to sports or entertainment celebrities.  For example, at this moment the top ten searches are:
  1. "Isaiah Thomas" (sports figure, recently attempted suicide)
  2. "Bumetanide" (a diuretic which is in the news because some sports figures have been abusing it)
  3. "Chrissy Popadics" (a cheerleader at Boise State who was recently proposed to by a Boise State player during a post-game interview; the marriage is this weekend)
  4. "Ashley Todd" (a Republican campaigner who concocted a hoax in which she claimed to be assaulted by an Obama supporter)
  5. "Water pills", presumably connected with #2 above
  6. "Lychee", an Asian fruit which is apparently suffering a poor harvest for some reason
  7. "Hit a Jew Day", which I blogged about earlier
  8. "Waffle House Wedding", which I really can't make any sense out of, other than perhaps this YouTube video
  9. "Scleroderma", which is presumably in the news because actress Dana Delany just joined the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation
  10. "Merl Saunders", recently deceased Grateful Dead keyboardist.
So, out of the ten top searches, four are sports related, one is politics, one is about food, one is about teenagers being stupidly bigoted (or two if you count 20-year-old Ashley Todd as a teenager), one apparently about an internet meme, one is about a movie celebrity, and the last about a music celebrity.

At best four of these have something to do with the real world, and that's generous as I'm counting Ashley Todd as "having something to do with the real world" even though it's pretty clear that Todd's connection to the real world is pretty tenuous.  And really even the scleroderma activity is because a celebrity said something about it, not because of any real interest or news.

Still, three or four out of ten is better than average.  There's been plenty of times that the hot list has been completely taken over by vapid celebrity nonsense. 

Then again, this shouldn't be a suprise.  Wikipedia demonstrates the same concentrations of interest, after all.