Searching for Tertullian
You know, the 20-whatever volumes of World Book or Britannica fun? Growing up, we had a set and we used them. If we had to search for something for our homework, it was off to the bookshelf to dig it out of the trusty encyclopedia.
Nowadays, encyclopedia sets are archeological relics. In fact, when she was cleaning out her classroom last year, our daughter’s teacher sent kids home with volumes that matched their initials. Hence the lonely “L” volume of the World Book sitting on a shelf somewhere around the house…
Today of course we google. Oh how we google!
In theory, google makes our lives easier. We can look up maps. We can find deals. We can read books. And of course we can search. Google is the postmodern equivalent of the 15 year old me digging through a dusty encyclopedia.
And, with google autocomplete, they’ve made it even easier. You know what I mean. Type in a search term and before you’ve gone very far, you get some options. According to the google autocomplete site,
“The search queries that you see as part of autocomplete are a reflection of the search activity of all web users and the content of web pages indexed by Google.”
In other words, call autocomplete the aggregate of our collective social conscience.
Because of this, what gets autocompleted is pretty revealing. And, in the case of male privilege and sexism in general, it’s downright alarming.
This article exposits what happens when you type in terms about women. I’ll give you an example:
See the problem? And it’s similar for search terms like “women cannot,” “women need to” and “women shouldn’t.”
Curious, I did a similar search for men. For the term “men should,” google came back with:
OK, it’s not exactly a great collection of options for men either, but it’s better than the ones for women.
Most of the time, male privilege lurks in the shadows. In our post-encyclopedia world, leave it to google to bring it out into the light.