Honestly, for the love of Google

Later this week, Google, perhaps the most beloved Internet search engine in the world, is likely to become a public business. Investors are jumping in their shoes for a chance to own a part of the Internet sensation that many tout as the white knight to Microsoft’s dragon. For one community, Google has affected their lives more dramatically than the typical Web surfer.

The Human Order of Google (HOG) is a quaint community outside of New Prague, Minn., and is approximately 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities. It’s a small community of about 30 members. They are all recovering from conditions having to do with the Internet phenomenon and search engine Google. A brief peek at their culture reveals a gated but accepting community.

Two infirmities dominate HOG, with “Googleitis” being the most common. “Googleitis” is the tendency of people using the Google search engine to begin a search on a topic and find themselves hours later looking at information irrelevant to their initial search. A search for baseball statistics that ends with information on Victorian furniture would be an acute case of “Googleitis.”

The second and perhaps more serious condition afflicting HOG members is commonly referred to as “the Googles.” “The Googles” is physical and mental withdrawal because of an inability to readily access the Google search engine. This denial often results in irritability, nervous twitches and frustration.

Members are indistinguishable from general society except for their dependence on Google. They formed HOG as an attempt to address “the Googles” and “Googleitis,” two diseases the medical community has yet to recognize. To help alleviate side effects from “the Googles,” members typically carry around laptops and are rarely out of range from a dial-up or wireless connection.

Some members have lost their jobs because of their dependence on Google. Perhaps because of their constant use of Google, members show remarkable skill in answering trivia questions. HOG members are a close-knit group but they openly welcome sufferers of “Googleitis” and “the Googles.”

The background noise is a constant hum of voices repeating “Google” over and over. It is reminiscent of fraternity chant. But these people are not drunk on alcohol; they are drunk on their love of Google.

Despite the name, HOG is not entirely comprised of humans. There are a few cats and dogs whose owners have named them Google. There is also a cow that has been branded with the Google trademark.

There has been talk of starting a Google church. Only a lack of funding has prevented its formation. HOG members hope that will change when Google declares its initial public offering later this week.

The Google company is based out of California and was formed by two Stanford graduate students. Unlike Wal-Mart or Microsoft, Google seems to have inspired devotion and love rather than disgust and hate. Google fulfills 200 million search requests each day in more than 90 languages. Google conducts 80 percent of the Web searches in the United States. Every minute, Google fulfills 138,000 search requests. The Google toolbar is one of the most popular downloads on the Internet because it eliminates pop-up ads.

The sad fact is that if you search for the Human Order of Google using Google, or any search engine for that matter, you won’t find anything – despite its hype and the millions of people around the world who love Google, the Human Order of Google doesn’t exist.

Karl Noyes is a member of The Minnesota Daily editorial board. He welcomes comments at [email protected]