Google - Five Uses That Larry Page Never Dreamed Of
Also known as ego-surfing. There you are, staring at the rubber plant in the office, waiting for inspiration on the figures that Geoff needed last Friday, thinking: "Who really cares that I exist? What difference has my life really made?"
Well, never let it be said that you are on your own in this cruel world. Go ahead. Type your own name into the search box. Google cares.
Google cares about the fact that you were once arrested for non-payment of parking tickets. Google remembers that you once came second in a statewide spelling bee. Google even has your cute yearbook picture - complete with dubious hairstyle and braces.
Of course, this can be downright depressing if you don't even appear under your own name. Never fear - get your own site. Leave your mark on the world - even if it is only the #3 position for "wombat milking". Web designers all over the world are waiting for your call.
It's a sunny day.
The top's down, you're driving - humming away to George Michael, the music comes to an end and a bouncy jingle announces the weather report.
But today the station has a new forecaster with a really, well, kind-of-earthy voice - the one that sounds as if she would understand what you mean by "Let's stay in and play with chocolate syrup, darling".
Next time you are back at the keyboard, an uncanny force takes over your hands - as if by magic the station call letters appear in the Google search box, soon you have a name, then a number, then an address.
This is sounding worryingly accurate, isn't it? It wasn't me who phoned in the report of the fake tornado just to hear your voice. Honest.
Your boss walks into the office. Smithers, he says to you (for that is your name), your personnel files say that you speak fluent French and Spanish. Translate these for me by tomorrow.
Your mental card file flicks through those old European holiday addresses for somebody who can help you out. You try Babelfish - but it comes up with phrases like "the sprocket envelopes are unloved encumbrances".
Never fear. Your trusty Google friend will help you through this torment. Just pick the key words in your sentence, type them in and steal the most appropriate phrase from the results...
One for a rainy Sunday afternoon.
You're lying there on the couch, the cat contentedly purring beside you, the sounds of your significant other extracting body hair from the bathroom sink waste pipe faintly echoing in the distance.
Then, all of a sudden, the question hits you... is George Clooney really more popular than Paul Newman? Or does Jennifer Love Hewitt really beat out Neve Campbell?
You race to the computer - George 153,000 Google results, Paul 171,000. This being the World Wide Waste-of-Time, someone has already automated this - the Google Duel.
Run your own Teen Queen knockout tournament - Sarah Michelle Gellar versus Alyssa Milano, Katie Holmes against ... you get the idea. Enjoy.
Spookily, this one is already spreading outwards into regular society, like the ripples from a rusty cooker thrown into your neighbourhood quarry.
You meet some guy in a bar, you get talking, you connect, he promises to call. Do you wait at home, heart pitter-pattering at every ring of the telephone, dry mouth, clammy hands, a thousand fantasies going through your mind?
How passé. How 1989.
You get straight on the computer and Google the guy. Did he once score a game-high 13 points at junior high basketball? Is he the treasurer of the Little Rock Taxidermist Association? Did he once believe himself to be Thog the Invincible in a roleplaying newsgroup?
Of course, what normal society doesn't yet realise is that the most eligible Google bachelors are the SEO geeks. Who else has the knowledge to relate their name to the discovery of a cure for an obscure disease, second place in the Chesapeake Bay yachting championships and a bravery award for saving a puppy and a young child from a raging torrent?
Who do you think is number 1 for "charming, witty and hung like a donkey"? No, really - stop laughing at the back there..