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Why You Are Part of the Biggest Cult in History

What a load of rubbish, right? Like you wouldn’t know if you were part of a cult. Well I’m telling you now that every single day of your life you display behavioural traits that put you firmly in the land of Heaven’s Gate, the Order of the Solar Temple and Scientology. I’m aware that this is a challenging statement, but hear me out.

The word ‘cult’ refers to a group of people who are unquestioningly devoted to an idea or a practice. It implies blind faith, an unbroken ritual that you’re probably not even aware of or wouldn’t consider remotely as out of the ordinary. And I’m saying that you’re a part of such a group. So what do you do that qualifies you? You use internet search engines.

Assuming you haven’t dismissed me as a deluded loon and you’re still reading this, give it some thought for a moment. What do you do if you want to find out about a product or service? You Google it. What about if you need directions? You Google it. And what if you want to know what time a movie’s on? You Google it.

Prior to undertaking the #NoSearch project, I did some research among my friends, colleagues and networks, and two thirds of the people I asked said that, on average, they use a search engine more than ten times per day. They don’t think about it, they just do it, and they have 100% trust in the results that they get back when they click the search button. Now do you see where I’m coming from? Ritualistic practices…blind faith…unquestioning devotion…

The upshot is that Google, Yahoo! and Bing have immense power over you and me and the way we perceive the world. You can even argue that SEO professionals and advertisers alike seek to exploit our reliance and complete trust in search engines by manipulating what we see via the organic SERPs and PPC adverts alike. If Google is Waco’s Davidians, the multi-million dollar SEO industry is its David Koresh, seeking to subvert our thinking, behaviour and decision making.

#NoSearch is (thankfully) nearing an end now, and in a couple of weeks time I’ll be back in the world of the search engine. But there’s been something quite invigorating and inspiring about stepping away from searching the interwebs for a couple of months. I’ll be revealing more of my learnings here from both a personal and professional perspective over the next few weeks. One of which being that virtually every single person I’ve encountered has totally missed what Google’s doing with G+. But more of that next week.

So, search engines: cult or no cult?

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