There are many joys to working with new media, but perhaps none more so than all of the “Stats” and other metrics provided by even the most basic of new media platforms. I love the fact that everything is trackable because it not only gives me an idea of how people are responding to my content, but also how new readers are stumbling upon my site.
Over the past couple of months the “search engine terms” stats have becoming one of my favorite pieces of information. The terms that people type into their search engines are interesting, sad, mind-boggling and humorous and, yet, they all lead to my content (I’m not sure what this says about me).
While many of the searches are worth noting, my favorite yet occurred last week when someone found me by searching, “I don’t believe for one minute the apostle Paul was into Catholicism, how can I prove this?”
My immediate thoughts were (in order):
1) Someone should teach that person how to use Google. I’m not sure if the modifier “for one minute” is a boolean operator, but my suspicion is that such phrases do little to enhance your search results; and
2) What ever happened to intellectual curiosity?
It has been said, “what we look for determines what we miss.” In other words, when we operate with bias, we find only evidence to confirm our bias, often missing evidence to the contrary that sits right in front of our eyes.
In our search-engine based culture, we’ve gotten to the point where we no longer seek information and perspectives as much as we seek validation of our already-formed opinions. The search I mentioned above doesn’t paint a picture of someone who wants to understand the Apostle Paul’s perspective on the early Church and the development of Catholicism. It was asked by someone who wants bullets for their theological gun, so they can take down whoever dares offer a perspective contrary to their own.
I typed the same search into Google this morning to see if I could figure out to which post the person had been directed. Five results later, there was my content, a recent post I wrote entitled “Stumbling over the Body of Christ, My Journey.” The post was about my past struggles embracing the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist because of my own intellectual biases.
Or perhaps the Sprit of God can reach even far enough into Google search results to lead people to the truth. That’s my guess.