On Idiots Lose on the ‘Net

Our tale begins with Google, as many such tales do.

It began with someone, perhaps much like yourself, in search of information about strange and unique subjects. Was it curiosity that motivated the intrepid searcher? Was it the need to complete an assignment for school? We cannot question the motives; we lack the capacity to determine them.

All we can say for certain is this.

Someone, somewhere, seated before their computer and the bathing glow of a cathode ray tube, went to Google.

And looked for information on “pitchers.”

But it was not information on Kerry Wood or Three Finger Brown or some other great pitcher of Chicago Cubs lore that was sought. Or information on someone like Roger Clemens, who should be run out of town on a rail.

No, not that kind of pitcher at all.

Could it have been a pitcher that one stores iced tea in, perhaps?

Alas, not a tea pitcher, either.

Rather, these intrepid ‘net searchers were looking for an altogether different kind of thing. Let us take, for example, yesterday’s searches:

  • “anakin 2005 pitchers”
  • “doctor how pitcher”
  • “pitchers of foggy and rain pitchers in America”
  • “pitchers of pluto”
  • “pitchers of aliens in space”
  • “pitchers of david tennant”

What these searchers found was not what they wanted. They found no “pitchers of pluto” — I cannot imagine Pluto, dwarf planet that it is, throwing a 95-mile per hour curve ball or fitting inside an iced tea pitcher. These things boggle the mind. Instead, our searcher for Pluto found a page of my ramblings on space exploration.

This is often the trouble with Internet searches. They wanted pictures, not pitchers; their results were incorrect, because they started from the wrong place. Though I confess that the phrase “pitchers of aliens in space” is too good not to use somewhere. And no doubt there’s a squeeing fangrrrl somewhere who would love to be a “pitcher of David Tennant,” though that what that would actually entail I would rather not know.

I worry for the future. Have people forgotten basic spelling? Will the ubiquity of spellcheck and txtspk cause linguistic shifts in the next decade as homophones and near-homophones begin to replace one another? Will there be a time even two decades hence when a student will say, “How can Oscar Wilde be so great when he misspelled ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ because isn’t the word actually ‘Pitcher’?”

Language is always evolving. Five years ago I thought that, thanks to mass media and recorded media that English would become relatively static. Obviously, I was wrong. ;)

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