Did Mammon defeat God online this Xmas?
Spending one's Christmas following Google Trends updates makes for a depressing spectacle.
I wanted a quiet, spiritual Christmas.
But then I was struck by the hideous news that U.K. retailers were trying to launch their sales online on Christmas Day.
With a loud voice that I last remembered from my First Communion screaming in my head "Is nothing sacred?", I decided to put humanity to the test. Are we still God-fearing people who understand the true meaning of life? Or is our belief in things truly beyond belief?
How better could one delve into this important issue than with the help of the Almighty? Yes, Google. Surely, I mused, Google is the repository of all true, intimate information. So I will slip myself in front of Google Trends at periods throughout the day and will examine humanity in its immediate living and breathing form.
I am not sure I will ever recover.
The morning began with the dominance of the iPod over the iGod. Clearly, there were still some people in the world who had never had one and were eager to explore all of the rites involved in virgin possession of Man's portable jukebox.
As the NBA games lurched through the televisual day, Googlers' enthusiasm for finding out more about Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and, um, the San Antonio Spurs' Roger Mason was palpable.
Many were simultaneously keen to discover what was showing at the local movie theaters, when Wal-Mart's sale began, which restaurants were open on Christmas Day (many showed a great fascination for the International House of Pancakes), and so many seemed entranced to know more about the multitalented actress Josie Davis.
Even more seemed insatiable on the subject of the movie Marley and Me, which, I understand, is another opus featuring Jennifer Aniston and an unsuitable dog.
The Top 100 searches, at least whenever I set eyes on Google Trends, avoided all matters of higher import. No one seemed keen to Google: "The world is going to hell in a handbasket and all I get is this infernal Xbox?"
I found no trace of: "Lord, what does it all mean?" Or even: "Is there a rap about the Rapture?" This is a pity, as there are some very fine church-related Web sites like Generationchurch.org, which offers excellent Twittering and Flickring options.
As I write, the day after this deeply worrying experience, I stare at the latest Google Trends, still concerned about the world's direction. Marley and Me continues to ride high in Googlers' cranial Top 20. The engagement of Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady is, naturally, creating worldwide giddiness. There seems to be massive outpouring of interest in the Sarah Palin calendar.
In a flicker of spiritual hope, only one retailer, Banana Republic, squeezes in at No. 16.
But there are only two entries in the whole of the Top 100 that reflect even a moment of self-reflection.
The first is at No. 59. Yes, it's "mortgage help." The other is languishing at No. 78. No, it's not "Lord, help us."
It's "waste management."