Close your eyes (after reading this paragraph though – so you know what you’re doing!). Pretend you are about to open up your favorite search engine. Hover the mouse over the blank search box, and click. Enter a search query. Open your eyes. What did you type?

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t give it much thought before mentally plugging in some keywords. In the visualization of my own process, I saw myself typing something like “Libra horoscope” or “Washington post” (because those two topics are totally related…). “Weather” and “mapmyrun” are also safe bets. If you had to think about it, would you say  most of the search queries you type tend to fall within the same 3-5 categories?  Are you constantly searching for new and/or random subjects? Do you have a regular routine of internet-ing that gets you through the day: an “internet ritual”?

Mapmyrun Google search query

A few days ago, HMA’s Interactive Marketing Manager, Colleen, tweeted me a great article about what makes jokes funny. She sent this because of my interest in all things anthropology. It explores the idea that humor may be a kind of human-derived formula; subsequently broken down by the individual components of a joke. While I was on the site, I noticed another anthro-inspired investigation of the human propensity to engage in ritualistic behavior.

Ultimately, it reports that ritualistic behaviors have emerged as social strategies. They foster beneficial results across a myriad of scenarios. Such instances occur when a person engages in a learned/mimicked behavior where the result/benefit is known, but why the action is (or isn’t) to be performed is not. This lack of understanding, however, does not impact the benefit. A child who mimics the act of tooth brushing is a good illustration of the concept. The child might know that this action results in clean teeth, but the actual science behind cavities – or the protective powers of toothpaste – are removed. A healthy smile, however, is obtained nevertheless.

I found my mind turning to the topic of people and their Internet search query behaviors. I wondered whether someone who categorizes themself as “OCD” or highly in need of structure in everyday routines might show a similar pattern in their internet search queries. Personally, I could add bookmarks or start/home pages to make all of my usual queries more accessible (I do for some, especially work stuff!), but I suppose my ritual of manually searching for these other topics has already taken root.

What about you? Do you derive a special sense of satisfaction when you wake up in the morning, pick up your phone and find out the weather before getting ready for the day? Do you ALWAYS turn to the same site(s) for all your celebrity/political/geek/sports news? Do you normally do this at the same time each day? What benefits do you derive from your online habits, and what would it take for you to wander outside the confines of your Internet rituals?