Co.Design

Watch: Our Deepest Fears, Revealed By Google Auto-Complete

Google’s Suggest tool is often as hilarious as it is shameful. But in this short video, it highlights the evolving insecurities of life.

“I’m 10 and pregnant.” It pops up in the white auto-suggest drop-down before your finger can even leave the zero key. And that’s only because Google has seen that exact search hundreds, thousands—who knows how many times before.

The moment is jarring, but Marius Budin pushes forward right through this soft spot. His short, Life Through Google’s Eyes, is the simple search bar, recording what autofills for the query "I’m [X] and," inserting the numbers 10 through 85. And what you see aren’t results like “I’m 35 and would like to eat better.” You get a glimpse into our basest insecurities regarding sex, friendship, and possibly the greatest idea underlying it all: loneliness.

Through the teen years, pregnancy is a primary concern—and in a dark turn of irony, it’s counterbalanced by concerns over virginity. Social questions creep up through our 20s—career, living at home, and even balding seem to echo the worry, “what will people say?”

But in reality, as big data shows us that we’re all searching for these same answers, maybe it’s time we just admit: We don’t need to air our concerns in anonymous solitude. There are more people who understand than we may think.

[Hat tip: FlowingData]

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4 Comments

  • randy

    type "I'm 70 and" to see what you get. I got "a virgin" and "pregant" - what does Google know about our seniors!

  • garethkane

    Recently I wanted some info on cleaning bird feeders (what a ker-razy life I lead). I typed "how frequently should I..." and Google helpfully suggested "poop?".

    Made me worry for the human race.

  • jimmy

    Everyone's search results are different. Mine show many of the same things but in a different order. For example for 40, it shows: 

    ... pregnant
    ... still a virgin
    ... still live with my parents
    ... single

    I'm 35 and...

    need a career
    pregnant
    never had a girlfriend
    want to join the military

  • Jo

    I was by chance doing the same thing with a friend a couple of weeks ago and the results are indeed very revealing of our utmost fears. We are communicating a lot nowadays but we are perhaps saying very little. Wise words Mark.