If you read newspapers or magazines frequently, you’ve probably happened upon the genre of the trend piece.
A trend piece documents something allegedly on the rise, and often tries to analyze what that says about us as a society. You may start with an anecdote, note that the person “is not alone” and then offer some other anecdotes or statistics to convince the audience that your trend is, in fact, a trend.
There are lots of statistics out there — true or not — so this shouldn’t be too hard. But way, way, too frequently, the writer resorts to a statistic like this:
“Google TREND and you get X million pages.”
Whatever X is, X million sounds like a very large number — and so this statistic serves to show your audience that the trend is overwhelming.
But these Google results numbers are pretty much meaningless. Is this number larger than it was 5 years ago, for reasons beyond the proportional growth of the internet? What other words have even greater numbers of results? That last question in particular matters, because there’s never any comparison. Even if there was, I’m not sure that would show what the writer is trying to show, because some words are just more present on the internet than they are consequential to life. I just Googled the word “blog” and got close to 7 billion pages. Then I Googled the word “water” and got 1.82 billion pages. Does that mean that blogs are roughly 3.5 times more significant than water? Probably not. Or consider this: the word “blogs” gives me 1.76 billion results, far fewer than “blog” — so are “blogs” plural less significant than “blog” singular?
I wish people would dig a little deeper and find a better statistic to show the importance of a topic.
In other, less crotchety news: Following a tip from Cali Yost, author of Tweak It, I looked through my oldest kid’s 2013-2014 school calendar and put all the dates of half days and vacation days on my calendar. Not only does this mean no one’s caught off guard, it also means I can start thinking about the next year’s vacations and when they might work.
We went to Costco this weekend and totally overdosed on produce. I’m trying to use as much as I can before it goes bad, but I’ve also realized that over-buying produce is not a bad thing — for me at least. It pretty much forces all of us to eat an extra serving than what we otherwise would. I just won’t be sharing Food Waste Friday pictures…