We all search weird-ass shit online. Just yesterday I Googled “butts,” “frat initiation rituals,” and “devil’s punchbowl.” And those weren’t even my porn searches!
The God’s Honest Truth is, I Google everything and everyone. For example, I’ve never met anyone without immediately following it up with a quick “[that person’s name] + gay?” search. Googling whatever makes our freaky-deaky hearts soar is what the internet’s for.
And I’m not alone. We all use search engines with abandon. I know that’s true because I Googled it. Also, the woman sitting next to me at Starbucks just Googled “how do you get pink eye” and I can’t tell if she’s worried she has it or if she wants to get it. And you know what? Good for her either way. You can’t get an answer if you don’t Google the question.
Each one of us is born with an innate desire to understand the unknown. And this quest for knowledge (and, once again, porn) is easily satiated now that we have an information superhighway at our fingertips. With a few quick strokes of the keyboard, I can learn anything from “how to bake a lemon meringue pie” to “how to dance like Beyonce.” Now I know I’ll never dance as good as Queen Bey. But my pie baking skills are more meringue-do than meringue-don’t these days. And I consider that a win.
But sometimes I worry about my proverbial search engine paper trail. What if my search history follows me the rest of my life? Could the insane things I’ve Googled ever became public record? That would be more embarrassing than the time I returned a stack of overdue library books about drug addiction, sex addiction, and hot wiring cars and had to explain I was a writer and they were for research. That librarian still side-eyes me every time I walk past her desk.
And if you’re wondering, yes, I am bragging about using the library. Google doesn’t keep track of what you search via the Dewey Decimal System, dammit!
Google, however, does keep track of your searches. Be it “why do I have hair on my shoulders,” or “do I have to pay taxes,” or “shirtless photos of Zac Efron.” And every other weird, random search you do. That’s because Google’s the Santa of spam. They’ve got a list, they’re checking it twice, and they’ll use that information to target you with ads for hair removal and tax prep programs.
So what can we do about this invasion of privacy? Should we stop searching altogether? If you got here by googling “horny doctors,” then I know you’re shaking your head ‘no’ right now.
The first step to deleting your Google search history, is to Google “how do I delete my Google search history?” You’ll be directed to a page like this one and you can do what they say. But all you’re doing is deleting the searches from your browser. Even if Google says they’re gone forever, can we trust Google? I’d sooner trust my Aunt Marcia to babysit my kids. And she burned her house down once!
Which is why the second step to deleting your Google search history is…not to bother. What if you deleted your fear instead? Google like everyone’s watching. Be honest about the fact that sometimes you search for “hemorrhoid cream reviews.” Shout from the rooftop that you have a Google alert for “Jimmy Garoppolo smiling.” Admit to your friends that you like to Google “sensual furniture” when you’re feeling low.
If we all opened up about our online search habits, we’d take away their power. Our search histories are a snapshot of the gloriously strange thoughts that pop into our heads. So let’s abandon the “search of shame” and celebrate each other’s idiosyncrasies.
Unless you like to Google actresses’ feet, in which case, please keep that to yourself.