Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fun With Autocomplete

I think this post may be my homage to Andy Rooney.  I picture myself reading it while wearing a rumpled suit and behind a paper-strewn desk.  Y'all have been warned!  The other day I was sitting around trying to remember the dimensions of subway tile.  Instead of grabbing a ruler and walking upstairs to measure the subway tile in my bathroom, I did what any lazy American does, I Googled, "what size is subway tile?"  I actually only got as far as "What size is" and then I noticed that the Google autocomplete was suggesting that I might want to finish off my query with "Khloe Kardashian."  The most popular ending for "what size is" is Khloe Kardashian.  Kim was also on the autocomplete list, but further down under "what size is a queen bed" and "what size is Beyonce."

Of course, because I'm fascinated with this kind of thing, I started Googling the beginnings of all kinds of searches.  I started with, "how do you" and the first suggestion was "get pink eye."  Okay, I can see why that might pop up.  However, once you have pink eye and you've gone as far as Googling it, do you really care how you got it?  Mostly, I'd guess that you'd want to know how to get rid of it.  On that theory, I tried, "how do you get rid of" to see if pink eye was on the list and it wasn't! People want to know how to get rid of bed bugs, hickeys, hiccoughs, fleas, and styes, but I guess they're just going to wait out the pink eye and ponder how they got it in the first place.

Next, I just typed the words, "is the " in my search.  The first thing I got was, "is the Slenderman real?"  This led me to wonder who is the Slenderman, and should I care if he's real?  Some helpful citizens on Yahoo! Answers informed me that the Slenderman is a 11-12 foot man in a black suit with 2-6 arms who has been around for centuries, swiping children off of playgrounds and killing them.  He sounds incredibly conspicuous, so I'm not sure how he sneaks around looking the way he does. He reminds me of the Jersey Devil that my sorority sister in college sweetly told me about as we drove through the New Jersey Pine Barrens in the middle of the night on a pledge trip.  Or the Japanese Kappa that I learned about in the Mythical Creatures exhibition that was at Fernbank Museum a while back. As an aside, the Kappa is my favorite mythical creature of all time.  It lives in ponds and rivers and will try to pull children into the water and drown them. To appease the creature, the Japanese people throw cucumbers into the water because the only thing the Kappa likes to eat more than children is a nice cucumber.  Y'all that's so funny!  And, if it gets out of its river or pond and comes out on to the land it has to keep water in an indentation in it's skull to survive.  But, the Kappa's kryptonite, so to speak, is its compulsive politeness.  If you bow to the Kappa when it's on the land, it will be compelled to bow back and the water will spill out of its head-bowl and it will be frozen for all eternity!  Please read about the Kappa, you will be so happy that you did.  (I searched on Google Images and found the adorable crocheted Kappa below.  Isn't he cute?  You would never guess he eats babies.)

Getting back to the story, a lot of people seem to be interested in who is gay.  When you just type in "is" you get a whole list of folks who people suspect might be gay, but, funnily enough, it's not any of the people who everyone really suspect to be gay.  Like, for example, Daniel Tosh is on the list.  Have you ever wondered whether he is gay?  I don't really think about Daniel Tosh, but if I ever have, I've never wondered about his sexual orientation.  Also, I hate to mention it, but Willow Smith is on the list.  Okay, she's a kid and in my naive little world shouldn't be looking at boys or girls in that way yet.  I think Google could do something to get her off that list.  I don't care if she's gay and I suspect that people will still whip their hair regardless.

A really great discovery came when I typed in "how many..."  One of the possibilities was "how many of me?"  I was intrigued enough to go for it and found that it is a website that will tell you how many people in the United States share your name.  Now, y'all know my first name is pretty unusual and my last name?  Totally weird for this part of the world.  As I suspected, it told me that "there are one or fewer people" in the United States with my name.  It never occurred to me that there might not even be one of me, but now I may be on the verge of an existential crisis.

Then, there are just the odd things.  When you type in "are" one of the suggestions is "are grits gluten free?" I have several friends who eat gluten free because they have a true sensitivity to gluten and wheat. I'm guessing that the popularity of the question stems from those people who are just into the fad aspect of giving up gluten because they think they'll lose weight and eat healthier.  If that's the case, my advice is to avoid grits, as well.  The only way grits are good is if they are cooked with about a gallon of butter and a cup of salt.  Any health benefit you may derive from avoiding gluten will be erased with one spoonful of grits. I promise.  Also, grits are corn and thus, gluten free.

Also in the odd category is when you type in "how can I" you get "how can I keep from singing?"  I thought that I would be led into a discussion of ear worms (those songs that you hear and can't get out of your head, "Call Me Maybe" springs to mind).  Instead, there's a real song called, "How Can I Keep from Singing?"  Who knew?  I guess I would have known, had I been listening to "A Prairie Home Companion" in September 2007 when Martin Sheen made his singing debut, belting out "How Can I Keep from Singing?"  Don't y'all just love Wikipedia?

People are interested in "why is the sky blue" slightly more than  "why is Jwoww getting sued?"  Clearly we have our priorities straight with that query.  "Why are" flamingos pink? barns red? and people so stupid?  I think I can safely answer that people are so stupid because we spend too much time Googling whether Frank Ocean is gay and whether mermaids are real when we should be doing something productive.  Hmmmm.  I guess that's a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it?  Y'all, I still don't know the size of subway tile.


  1. I wonder if I type "What did I ever do" it would auto-populate with "before there was Google"? I love this post. I think you are going to make me smile on a daily basis. I am glad for it. Thanks, Sus!

    1. I just checked and it autocompletes to "what did I ever do to you"? Ominous! Thanks for the nice comment.