If you and I were to type the same search term or phrase into Google, we likely would get different results.
Let’s say we search for “fun things to do.” The search will be personalized by location. In a way, that’s good; knowing fun things to do in New Orleans, where you live won’t be of much use to me in Michigan.
We also are likely to get different results based on search history. Google uses six months of your search history to rank results. So, if you have searched repeatedly for art museums and galleries, art classes and exhibits will appear near the top of your list. If I frequently search for fishing lures and boat motors, I’ll find lakes and fishing lodges.
It gets more interesting when it comes to current affairs. If I regularly read stories from Washington Examiner and Fox News, the results I get from searching for “Delta” may vary widely from yours if you read Washington Post and watch CNBC, for example. Diversity of results will be even greater if we type “Donald Trump 2024.”
So, search engines feed us what an algorithm has concluded we want. I keep getting fishing, you keep getting art. I get conservative viewpoints and you get liberal ones. And almost all the evidence supplied by our searches supports the beliefs we already hold. Neither of us can understand how the other possibly can think differently, when the truth is so obvious.
The term “silo mentality,” which emerged from the business world, has application to social life. We…