The beginning of the new year also has been a time when we've expressed our fears with some unusual search behavior. At the start of 2009, economic fears weighed heaviest on our minds on January 1. As I look at search terms for last week, my sense is that we don't have enough to worry about.

The fastest-rising search terms indicate that some of us have become obsessed with doomsday scenarios, such as the Mayan Calendar, which some believe indicates the world will end in 2012.

For those of you who think we'll prove the Mayans wrong in two years' time, there is also a surge in searches for the Apophis Asteroid. Not being well-versed in astronomy, I assumed this surge in online interest must be related to an upcoming opportunity to see an asteroid streak across the sky. Despite my stellar illiteracy, I'll admit that over the years I've spent many cold nights standing outside trying to identify comets or meteor showers to no avail.

Today, however, I can just Google "Apophis Asteroid." When I do, the search results reveal that there is a chance—albeit small—that this particular asteroid could strike the earth on Friday, April 13, 2036. The site calculates that the probability as 1-in-48,000, so maybe it's a little early to start packing up our earthly belongings.

As an Internet analyst, January really is my favorite time of year, given some of the odd online behavior. Stay tuned next week when we dive into other New Year's search surges, such as "prom dresses" and "pregnancy." Hopefully there's no connection there.

Bill Tancer is an Internet trend analyst, columnist and author of the New York Times best-seller Click—What Millions Do Online and Why It Matters.


Next Story