Monday, 7 May 2007

Seeing what people are searching for...

I have a statistical program on this blog that lets me see how readers find me. It shows me the search terms people type into Google or Yahoo when they come here because of a search.

It's interesting to note that most people who find me because of searches are searching on the terms Anam Cara (soul friends), Bashert (soul mates), loss of love, or saying goodbye to a friend. These terms seem to resonate with readers across the globe. And I can't help but wonder what this says about us as people.

So why those search terms? I think a few recent studies may hold the answers:

A recent study suggested that most people in the U.S. have about 2.08 people to whom they can talk in a crisis or about matters of deep importance. Putting aside that intriguing partial person that appears in almost all statistical studies (have you ever seen .08 of a person walking around? Why are they and their decimal or fractional twins always in studies but never in our neighborhoods?), that is a very very sad statistic. And many, many people reported they had NO ONE in whom they
could confide. Think about that for a moment...most people have only two people in the entire world with whom they can share the big things in life...the big fears and the big joys, the secret dreams, the "I-just-need-someone-to-talk-to" stuff. And so many are all alone, facing life without a single confidant.

And in another article, I read that calls to help lines and postings on advice and prayer websites are at an all-time high. Although there is no proof of the connection, it certainly appears that people are turning to annonymous voices on the end of a phone or the ultimate annonimity of the internet to take the place of close friends and close family.

So in our loneliness and isolation, we are searching online for advice on how to handle the loss of a love, or how to say good bye to a friend -- because there is no one there in the family or the neighborhood who will listen and share our pain. After all, we meet our dates online. And we join clubs and special interest groups online. Why not search for that elusive "someone who cares" there too?

And we search on the terms soul friends and soul mates in hopes that somewhere out there in the virtual world, there is someone who will tell us exactly how to meet someone who will finally understand us deeply and completely. (There are websites and books that proport to do exactly that, by the way. A step by step wikihow type guide to meeting the people the universe and G-d want us to find. Do we really believe G-d needs instructions to get our soulmate to our door?)

Have we (and by "we" I mean everyone on the planet) reached the point where we have to substitute typed messages and calls to strangers manning phone lines for genuine face to face contact? And most important, can we reverse it?

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