Over the last few years, some of the most frequent keywords used in searches that lead visitors to this blog are:
In the last two years, a few new phrases have appeared:
- Purpose of life and variants of this theme.
I am not surprised by the first group, as most of my posts are about one or more of those topics.
Trying to determine the reasons for the second group is an interesting exercise.
The reason for cobra is simple, back in October 2012, I published a post Grabbing a cobra by the tail about encounters with cobras and other snakes in Africa.
It seems that the word cobra has a fascination for many search engine users, particularly people in Russia looking for guns with that name.
Purpose has appeared in a couple of posts, but has only been making a more frequent appearance as a searched keyword in the last few months.
It is a bit of a chicken or egg situation. Is Google sending more visitors here because I have included the word they are searching for in posts? Or are more people using the word in searches because it represents a topic that is receiving increased attention?
It’s a bit of both.
Quora is an interesting barometer of current concerns. It is not a scientifically valid measure of public opinion because it is unlikely to be representative of the whole population or even internet users in general. But it does give an indication of the type of questions that make people think.
“What is the purpose of Life” received 212 answers on Quora at the time of writing. There are many more questions about purpose on the site.
Which leads to another question.
Why the increase in the number of people pondering their own purpose on this planet?
Is it because more writers are writing about it in books, newsletters and on blogs?
Are more “gurus” promoting purpose as a way to sell courses and become famous?
Could it be a dissatisfaction – even if it is not recognised – with the way society is moving? The lack of real, face-to-face communication. The invasive nature of social media driven by the relative low-cost of smart phones and ease of access to the internet outside the home or office.
Perhaps it’s a reflection on the short comings of our education system, young adults launched into the harsh reality of an economy that has exported many traditional entry-level jobs to other continents. Unprepared for the real world as it is now.
I hate to point fingers at life coaches and self-help practitioners because I am a crusader for positive thinking and shaping one’s own destiny myself. But have we led too many people to believe that they can have an extraordinary life merely by a daily practice of reading lists of goals and reciting affirmations?
Has life been too easy for the last 20 years? There was no conscription in North America or Europe for either of the two Iraq or the Afghanistan campaigns. Compared to the two World Wars and Vietnam, the number of military personnel involved was much lower and despite the intense media coverage, the effect on the uninvolved public, less severe.
Apart from the economic problems after 2008 which affected Southern Europe more than North America there has not been a long period of adversity affecting huge numbers of people.
What is the most important of these and other factors?
My guess is that the answer will be different for each of us. Some people are comfortable enough with who they are and the life they have that they do not spend time worrying about a purpose to it all.
Others are so busy trying to survive that they don’t have the time or energy to consider whether there is a purpose to life.
What about you? Do you believe that finding and knowing our purpose for being here is important?
Share your thoughts in a comment.
p.s I published a post on my other blog about the reaction to the Donald Stirling incident. Don’t go there if you are politically correct, you might not like it.