Google’s socially penetrative power is exemplified in the fact that it has recently been added to the dictionary as a noun and a verb. As one article in Sci-Tech Today noted, Google has joined the ranks of Kleenex, Xerox, Band-Aid, and other companies or products to have become so deeply ingrained in our culture that they no longer exist as a brand, but as the catch-all for their product relatives.Google’s rise to preeminence in the world of online search engines is not news. We have increasingly become accustomed to its existence and to its addition to our social lexicon. However, how many of us have stopped to ask “why”? Why has an Internet search engine become so popular? Why has Google infiltrated our culture with such vigor? The most intriguing aspects of John Battelle’s book, The Search, are his existential musings on these very questions. His answer: Humanity’s unrelenting quest for knowledge.Unfortunately, this existential premise was only his entry point for setting the stage for and then discussing Google’s rise as THE means through which most of us search the Internet. While interesting to some, no doubt, what I find more curious than the life stories of the most valuable players in the world of Internet search, is how Google has shaped how we think of each other…and how we think ourselves.

When we “Google” ourselves, we are seeking to know how the world views us. We are intrigued by the notion that we can see how we are seen beyond our own eyes. This cultural anthropological search of ourselves allows us to view our place in society through the eyes of Google’s results. Before Google, newspaper clippings tucked away in a dusty scrapbook were our only proof that those beyond our small world knew we existed. We held those clippings tight and passed them on to our children so they too could know that we did, in fact, have a place in society—that we mattered.

A metamorphosis has occurred. We have woken up to find our immortality no longer contained in a scrapbook, but in an entity without any physical properties. We imagine this entity, cyberspace, has no barriers. We have woken up to find our ability to be known and to be viewed is infinite. Google has given us a sense of immortality.


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