We the people are so predictable, so it should come as little surprise that some human behaviors are so common that an in-depth dive into Google’s recently released search data proves that our shared consciousness is indeed some sort of Internet-identified hive mind.
At what time do we turn to Google to search the “weather” or “porn”? According to new Google data and an excellent deep dive written by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz in The New York Times, “weather” searches peak before 5:30 a.m. in New York while “porn” searches peak after midnight.
Searches for “suicide” peak at 12:36 a.m. while people Google “why is my poop green?” before and after the traditional workday and “forgot password” after 2 a.m.
The first-of-its-kind data from Google is fascinating, and even though Stephens-Davidowitz was using New York data for the above surges in searches, we Americans are more alike than we are different, as he points out:
Mostly, people in different parts of the United States and the world are very similar in how we search. For example, every part of the world I looked at consumes more news first thing in the morning than at any other time of the day.
Stephens-Davidowitz has fun with the data, pointing out that we trend toward the big life questions — “What is the meaning of consciousness?” — in the late-night hours. Perhaps that late-night curiosity is inspired by another popular a.m. search, which asks Google to show us how to roll a joint.
The data shows that the hours between 2 and 4 a.m. are prime time for big questions: What is the meaning of consciousness? Does free will exist? Is there life on other planets? The popularity of these questions late at night may be a result, in part, of cannabis use. Search rates for “how to roll a joint” peak between 1 and 2 a.m.
The story points out “one very important weakness in the data:”
Google releases only search rates, not the total number of searches. If a search rate for a word is highest at 3 a.m., it means that of all the searches at that time, an unusually large percentage of them include that word. Another important weakness of the data: Our searches most definitely do not capture every activity. If you have a regular yoga appointment at noon, you may not need to make any searches about it.
It’s true: If you already roll the perfect joint, why would you Google it?
For those who still need a joint-rolling lesson, we have your back.