About once a month, I spend time at Google Analytics, Google Trends, and Blog Pulse; getting a feel for the search and blog trends in the digital world. I pay special attention to the trends related to “education” and “religion.” So, as I was looking at fastest growing keyword trends in religion over the last thirty days, I was surprised to see that “Laodicean” was listed as the fastest growing religious search term.
For those of you are are more in tune with current events, you may already know the answer to this riddle. I was clueless. What was happening? Laodicea, or at least the Christian church in Laodicia, is famous for a mention in the book of Revelation in the Christian Scriptures. There, the church is critiqued as being “neither hot nor cold”, for being a lukewarm church. Why are people so fascinated with this town right now?
I started to wonder, “Is there still a Laodicea today that might be in the news? Hopefully there wasn’t some sort of terrorist attack or natural disaster.” Of course, this town does not even exist today. Upon typing “Laodicea” into Google, it was clear that I was going the wrong direction. I typed the exact term that is listed as popular this month, not “Laodicea”, but “Laodicean.” Lo and behold, the curtain was opened and standing on the stage was 13-year-old Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas.
What else occurred in the past month? My search took me to a May 28, 2009 article entitled, “‘Laodicean’ launches Kansas Teen to Spelling Bee Victory.” There you have it. A bright young lady wins the national Spelling Bee on the word “Laodicean” and the web lights up with people around the US looking up a word that otherwise hardly gets mentioned. All of the sudden, rarely visited web sites about the church in Laodicea are getting a ton of visitors. Who knows how many people might have ended up on random web sites that talk about God’s dissatisfaction when people are neither hot nor cold, about the dangers of spiritual complacency.
This might just be some strange social media equivalent of the Butterfly Effect. Could it be a that a butterfly flapping wings on one side of the planet can result in a chain reaction of events that cause a Tsunami on the other side of the planet? That is how the question is framed regarding the Butterfly Effect. Only, in the digital world, I propose that we change it from the Butterfly Effect to the Spelling Bee Effect. Could it be that a girl spelling a word correctly in Kansas can turn dusty web pages about 2000 year old towns into Las Vegas-style action-packed social hot spots? The answer appears to be Y–E–S.
And how about the irony of a church known for being neither hot nor cold turning into the hottest (at least fastest growing) religious topic on the web for the past month?