Frequently, I'll be asked a question — or think of one myself — to which I don't know the answer. When it happens, I'll usually respond to the person (and sometimes, to myself), "If only there was a device in my pocket that contained all of the world's knowledge …" Sometimes, according to my wife and my dad, I do this to obnoxious levels. I guess it does kind of kill the conversation when you can so easily find the answer to a question that would otherwise foster debate.
Of course, not every bit of information in the world is available on the internet and, therefore, our smartphones. And some of what is out there contains biases, slants and, well, just plain inaccuracies. Still, the internet is far more reliable than it used to be.
Ask Jeeves disappeared from our search engine choices almost a decade ago, around the same time Google officially earned transitive verb status from both the Oxford and Merriam Webster dictionaries as the world's premier search engine (sorry Bing), but plenty of people still search the web (or Google) in the form of a question.
The most Googled question of 2015? "What's zero divided by zero?" Apparently, this wasn't because people didn't actually know the answer — it's because the upgraded version of iPhone's Siri gives a response full of attitude that involves Cookie Monster, of "Sesame Street" fame, and your lack of friends. (Go ahead and ask her — I'll wait.)
Last week, I got an email that caught my attention that was all about questions each state Googled more than anywhere else.
The research was done by a company called Estately, a national real estate search site whose employees either have a lot of free time to do impractical state-by-state studies — like what you can buy based on each state's median home value (the $287,500 for the average home in Maryland, they say, could pay the fines of 12 NFL players or coaches who verbally abuse the officials, although this seems far more necessary in Cincinnati) to which "Star Wars" character your state would be (Dr. Cornelius Evazan for Maryland, apparently because our fine state has the most plastic surgeons per capita … at least it's not Jar-Jar Binks, like New Jersey) — or they recognize doing these types of silly studies act as free advertising (you're welcome).
Anyway, I was curious to see what burning questions Marylanders had on their minds that other states' residents weren't necessarily interested in.
Our fine state apparently has football on the brain (I guess crabcakes and football are what Maryland does). The two queries: "Did O.J. do it?" and "Is Joe Flacco elite?" The rest of the country apparently has already realized the obvious answers to both of these stumpers, but Marylanders remain undecided.
Next up: "Who unfollowed me?" My guess is your Facebook friends from other states who are sick of your posts defending the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback or the former Buffalo Bills running back-turned-inmate.
That's followed by "Who runs the world?" (either a group of wealthy elitists or Beyonce, according to the top returns on Google), "When is it going to snow?" (it's Maryland, wait 15 minutes), and "Why do I owe taxes?" (it's unclear if they aren't sure if they made a mathematical error this year, or if this is a general question … or maybe the Save-A-Patriot folks in Westminster are doing a lot of research).
I will say, some of the unique Google searches for other states shed some not-so-flattering light on them. For example, one of Delaware's top questions unique to the state: "How do I get away with murder?" (Note to self: no long weekends in Fenwick Island this year.)
Kansas wonders "How to make meth?" while Mississippi asks "Am I pregnant?"
Texans want to know both "Am I cool?" and "Am I a sociopath?"
Googlers in Montana, presumably dissatisfied with our field of presidential candidates, most frequently asked "How to move to Canada?" more than any other state.
Perhaps no question is more mind-blowing, though, than the one posed by the good people of Wyoming more than the residents of any other state: "What is Wyoming?"
Some questions are better left unasked.
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Wayne Carter is the editor of the Carroll County Times. Reach him at email@example.com.