When I was finishing up my time in graduate school, I was lucky enough to find a job that was flexible, kind of fun, and also really f*cking weird. My job was this: I would listen to the audio searches (think Siri) of real people talking into their phones. All I knew about this (and really all I cared to know) was that it was for an undisclosed cell carrier looking to improve their talk-to-text functions. I sincerely doubt these people knew their voice was being recorded and shipped off to randos wearing sweatpants and headphones, sitting on their sofas to transcribe what they’ve said. So just know that in all of those cell phone contracts you’ve signed without reading, you may very well have been giving your provider license to do the same.
I kept the job for a while after I graduated. (I actually think I may have kept it for a bit after I started writing for Pajiba.) It was the most flexible job I’ve ever had, and it paid per transcription, so since I ended up being good at it, the money was pretty good. But the thing that really kept me doing it for so long was that it felt like I had a secret window into people’s thoughts and fears and questions. Over the few years I worked for this company, I got bumped around to a lot of projects, so I got to hear the searches, commands, and texts of a lot of different people. I listened to British searches (you all apologize to and thank your phones a lot), Americans (we’re pretty boring), adults (a lot of porn), and children (Minecraft, only ever Minecraft searches). And because I’ve had that ear open when you all thought no one could hear you, I can tell you one thing for sure.
No freaking way is Google’s most asked questions video accurate.
That was the video released by Google today, with what they purport are our most asked questions. And while I’m sure a lot of people did ask what they can do to help the refugees, and I actually do believe that half the world asked that damn dress question, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the joke or cliche or whatever you want to think of it as, is true: everyone searches for porn. Really filthy stuff, too. I’ve heard it, hundreds of thousands of real people’s searches, with my own unbleachable ears. And sure, I understand that a lot of people searched for Cecil the lion, but a thousand individuals searching for the very specific thing they’re jonesing to see right that moment does not add up the same. My honest-to-godtopus first ever “utterance” I transcribed was (*EXPLICIT GROSSNESS/OTHER SEX-POSITIVE WARNING*) “two blondes squirting in a shower,” and while that goes in the same category as the also very real “how to do sex with a girl,” I understand that those don’t count as the same search.
I also understand that while I heard probably hundreds of men search for lesbian porn, dozens search for “granny porn” and some number in between looking for various or any celebrities masturbating, these aren’t questions. So they don’t even count. But I am 100% positive that no Most Asked Questions list is complete without some variant of wondering if your genitals look normal. Because men and women (and children, disturbingly) all wonder that. And they ask the internet. Ladies, if you’ve ever asked the internet if your labia are the right color, believe me that you are not even close to alone. And men, I don’t know how to make women want to do various sex acts on you, but I do know you’re not alone in wondering.
So sorry, Google. I simply do not believe your list.
Vivian Kane forgot to include the guy who asked his phone how to use inception to go into someone’s dream. She hopes he found what he was looking for.