Many may argue that there is no way that google searches can offer insight into what types of people we are. It’s not accurate or fair to divide people into groups based on what they choose to search. That searches don’t show anything about our societal hive mind, because people are always going to naturally seek information. In fact, we as people are multi-faceted and boiling us down to Validators, Writers, and Seekers doesn’t show anything about internet culture or our craving for information. Although not the focal point of the paper, some may even go as far as to argue against the idea that violent video games don’t cause violent behavior. Despite these claims it’s apparent that their is some connection between an increase in google searches for certain key phrases after a particularly violent crime blamed on violent media committed by a teen.
The first major point to talk about is that google searches can’t offer insight into what types of people we are. For example, just because someone searches “bomb” doesn’t mean they are a terrorist. However, it’s important to realize that the internet omits “survey bias.” As writer Seth Stephens-Davidowitz says in his article “Everybody lies: how Google searches reveal our darkest secrets,” “The more impersonal the conditions, the more honest people will be…Certain online sources get people to admit things they would not admit anywhere else. They serve as a digital truth serum.” This shows that people are willing to be much more honest about what they believe when it comes to browsing the internet. In fact, searches are not just done purely for information. The evidence suggest that when we-as a culture- search for gun control, video games, and shootings, it’s because we have some opinion on this topic. Before he explains that google searches are almost like truth serum Stephens-Davidowitz says that “Many people underreport embarrassing behaviors and thoughts on surveys. They want to look good, even though most surveys are anonymous. This is called social desirability bias.” People have ideas of what is desirable in society and choose to hide what they believe from all but the internet as a means of staying socially credible. Despite this, there is still a desire to support one’s own argument, which is why many people who search end up being Validators. Unlike Seekers, they aren’t searching for information, but echo chambers that support their own ideas.
Another point is that some may challenge the base idea that video games don’t cause violent behavior. Although this is a topic that has been argued to death, it still comes up every time a violent shooting happens that is blamed on violent media. In fact, numerous articles were released after the Parkland shooting stating that there is no correlation, because President Donald Trump released a statement saying there was. There are some who still believe this to be true though because they are distrusting survey bias, the gray area that some studies sit in. As pointed out by Remeo Vitelli in his article “Can Video Games Cause Violence”, “The debate over video games has led to a serious split between different groups of researchers which was as much about politics as research findings…lack of real consensus among researchers and the heated arguments they tend to make defending their own view.” Despite the general consensus about video games and violence many are distrusting of that information because some scientist tend to defend their own way of thinking only. This shows why there is a population of people who don’t trusts research. However, it’s important to realize that regardless of whether or not video games do cause violent behavior people still take to the internet looking for affirmation.
The final point is the idea that we can’t be split up into these three groups purely off of our search history. This point brings to light the idea that we are stuck in one of these roles for our entire lives. However, this is not the case. People are indeed multi faceted and we move through these different groups depending on the topic at hand, our social circle, and what we already know about the topic. These groups truly show our tendencies in tense political, and societal situations. When we are presented with something that shakes the foundation of what we believe we have a response. Whether that response is to try to reaffirm what we think or to prove others wrong just depends. In fact, it’s a person to person basis and not all people who search for gun control after a violent crime are validators. It definitely isn’t an exact science or anything but it’s clear to see that we seek a connection between these topics.
All in all, although there may be some holes in this idea it is still valid. We-as a race- seek to either sever or form a connection between violent media and violent crimes. This could be because we it’s connected to a hot topic issue of gun control. However, evidence seems to suggest that we do it to validate our own opinions. The distrust in studies done by researchers has lead to a gap in information that people have to fill themselves. In an attempt to fill this information gap, people take to the internet. In turn, the google searches these people conduct can reveal some things about their intentions, because people are more honest when it’s impersonal.
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Rogers, Simon. “What Is Google Trends Data – and What Does It Mean?” Medium, Google News Lab, 1 July 2016, medium.com/google-news-lab/what-is-google-trends-data-and-what-does-it-mean-b48f07342ee8.
Vitelli, R. (2013, April 1). Can Video Games Cause Violence? Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201304/can-video-games-cause-violence
Campbell, C. (2018, March 10). A brief history of blaming video games for mass murder. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.polygon.com/2018/3/10/17101232/a-brief-history-of-video-game-violence-blame