One list in particular this year has me thinking more deeply about the culture in which we live. Since 2001, Yahoo! has gathered the top ten search queries for the year. It gives us an idea of what most interested the 631 million people who used this particular search engine. It gives us a snapshot of what things we most wanted more information on.
Top 10 Yahoo Searches for 2010
Initially, the first two items inspire a glimmer of hope. For the first time in the history of this list a news story took the top spot rather than a company, celebrity, or TV show. It is a promising thing that even though the oil spill was a horrific environmental disaster it could garner our interest and scrutiny away from more mindless things. From the day of the explosion and in the 86 days that followed before the rig could be capped, the disaster became the focus of both anger and an intense desire to help. It helped people of all ages to think and process how our actions can both hurt and help the world around us.
A positive event that captured the world’s attention took the second spot. The World Cup, hosted for the first time by an African nation, piqued people’s interests in understanding the game of soccer, the players, and even the crazy horns that could be heard throughout every game. An event shared by so many people in so many different places helps us to feel more connected to our neighbors even in faraway places.
Yet, as I look at the remainder of the list, I get increasingly concerned for the amount of time and energy we put into the lives of celebrities and the creation of celebrities. With so many important things going on in our nation and world, it appears to be the lives of people like Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian are what we find most important. It shouldn’t be surprising; one look at our media and you can see we are obsessed with fame and celebrity.
I cannot help but wonder what this will mean for our youth as they grow and learn in this culture. Will they be able to think critically about the world around them or will they self-select to only hear about what new movie Megan Fox is making? Are we raising up a generation of youth that knows too little about the world around them? Will they value Godly things or the shallow, fickle ideas of fame?
We just finished the 10 commandments in Confirmation class, and I am reminded that our God is a jealous God who does not want to share our attention with the likes of Megan Fox and Justin Bieber. I confess that often my attention, time, and energy are not on the things of God, but on the gods of other things. It makes me unfathomably grateful for the grace we have received in Jesus Christ. Jesus loves and died for even those who know more about Miley Cyrus than my neighbor who needs to hear the Gospel.
And perhaps He is using a list like this to remind me and my youth of paying attention to where our focus is. Lists are a valuable resource, and sometimes they help us to see with clarity where we have gone wrong, and where, through grace, we may be able to change.
What do you see in this list?