Few companies have achieved Google’s level of success. Google is not merely a subject for freelance technology writers, but one of the most commonly used tools for anyone with a computer or a smart phone. Like offering a Kleenex to someone who needs a tissue, or asking for a Xerox of a document when you want a photocopy, “to Google” is now a verb that means to ask the Internet.
So what do people ask the Internet? I decided to examine this, as I thought it would be an interesting look into the psyche of people who use the Internet. As of the morning of December 14th, 2012, these were the most popular questions, according to the Google app on my phone, that began with the words “what is…”
1. What is my IP address?
I’ve asked it, as have many others, in order to fix some problem with the Internet connection. IP stands for Internet Protocol. Your IP address is a unique number assigned to the device you are using to access the Internet. It can be considered a somewhat philosophical question, as it asks for a definition of the very medium that allows us to Google the question.
2. What is Gangnam Style?
Gangnam Style is a Korean pop song performed by PSY. It is currently the most popular video on Youtube, and perhaps one of the most popular songs in the world. Gangnam is a wealthy district in Seoul, South Korea. PSY has compared it to Beverly Hills, California. While the style in Gangnam may not necessarily be ostentatious, some who seek to posture as individuals of means often utilize the neologism “Gangnam Style” without ironic intent. The song ridicules such a lack of self-awareness, as is evident from the music video.
3. What is Obamacare?
Obamacare refers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The law has become one of the most divisive pieces of legislation in at least a generation, and may have been one of the reasons for the ascension of the Tea Party movement. The PPACA drew criticism for its length (it is 2,400 or more pages according to many news outlets, and 906 pages according to the actual document) and the mandate that all Americans capable of purchasing insurance do so. Other complaints with the PPACA were less cogent, as they vehemently opposed provisions that were not in the law (death panels). A far more coherent criticism was directed at the Obama Administration for its poor marketing of the law, which may have led to the profusion of spurious interpretations of the PPACA, even if many of its components were and continue to be popular among voters.
Another controversy surrounding the law concerns the inception the individual mandate provision. The conservative Heritage Foundation ostensibly came up with the idea in the late 1980s, but they have recently denied responsibility. In fact, the individual mandate has become so repugnant to conservative voters that the former Republican Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney (who not only signed the mandate into law, but can be seen posing with the bill (as well as an American flag and a picture of his wife) in his official gubernatorial portrait), swore to overturn it if elected president.
4. What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite found in most cereals, such as wheat, barley and rye. Gluten can be used as a thickener, flavor enhancer and protein supplement. It is found in most processed foods, in most cuisines and in virtually all beer. Only a few years ago it was very difficult to live in an industrial society without eating gluten. This is beginning to change, however, as many fad diets are advocating a gluten-free lifestyle. Furthermore, many companies are now attempting to cater to this market.
5. What is love?
When you feel it, you’ll know.
Jay F is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.