Google Is Tattling On the Really Bad Online Manners of Californians

According to a new project led by WordFinder, the Golden State comes dead last on a list of states with the best search term etiquette

The results are in: If you judge a state by its Google search trends, California has some major egg on its face—and appalling online manners. 

In a new project helmed by word game helper WordFinder by YourDictionary, the Golden State ranks as the least polite in the country when it comes to the language it’s using in online searches. According to project manager Rachel Kirsch, the deep dive took a team of about 12 researchers and around 8 weeks to complete. Starting with an in-depth round of brainstorming, the development team pooled 23 different terms they deemed “generally polite,” 23 common terms of endearment, and a range of common positive slang terms. The team then used these terms as a key, of sorts, in analyzing how much or how little they occurred in searches per 100,000 residents in every U.S. state. 

“We do a lot of projects like this. Looking into the data behind certain language phenomena,” Kirsch says. “The project offered this kind of insight into what words people just don’t use and how much you can get to know a place based on the language they gravitate towards.”

In other words: “If the search terms people use are any indication of how they communicate online, you may be more likely to have a polite virtual conversation with someone in Montana versus California,” the project summary states.

It was Montana, incidentally, that ranked most polite to California’s worst. 

And though the Politest Searches list is a playful exploration of how much one can learn of a state’s personality based on its resident internet searchers, Kirsch says the genesis of the project —which also analyzed terms of endearment and the most positive slang terms searched—began with a hopeful goal. 

“It started with one of our team members talking about the best way to spread positivity,” Kirsch says. “And wondering how that positivity is spread online.” 

LAMag would like to note here that, certainly, these are two very different things.

According to Kirsch, the analysis did turn up some compelling data. While seemingly common terms like “gorgeous,” “lovely,” or “dear,” didn’t appear at all in searches, some states did find a lot of common ground in their online activity. 

California, Nevada, Utah, and Michigan all gravitated towards “bussin’” as their go-to positive slang term in searches while “Darling,” signified the West Coast’s pet name of choice. More embarrassingly—you know, in a funny sort of way—for every 100,000 residents, only 10 Californians used typically polite terms in their online searching. In Montana, meanwhile, more than 270,000 searches per 100,000 residents demonstrated better manners, using terms considered polite, like “please.” 

And though it may be difficult, if not impossible, to really gauge how much online etiquette translates to real-world manners, the takeaway of WordFinder’s project is clear, according to Kirsch. 

“I hope it’s encouraging that people do search positive terms. People are leaving nice tweets,” she says. “They are searching nice things.” 

You know, if you’re not in California, at least.

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