Google Knows Best

Jeremy Sharp, PhD men's issues Leave a Comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about men’s issues in therapy over the last few weeks. This is due, in part, to an upcoming men’s therapy conference in Austin that I’ll be attending, and also to the fact that I’m putting together a men’s group here in Fort Collins. As I’ve been doing research on each of these things, I’m again confronting the stigma that men face when considering mental health services.

The experience that has stuck with me the most came along simply enough. I was Googling to find examples of flyers to use for my men’s group. Have you ever noticed that when you mis-type something, Google will correct it for you? So instead of searching for “zucchini brad,” Google corrects it to “zucchini bread.” The subliminal message is that searching for “zucchini brad” is so out of the norm that Google is confident enough to suggest that you meant something else.

But back to my real example. I searched for “men’s group flyer” and got Google-corrected to “women’s group flyer.” Hm. Are men’s groups really so rare that Google could feel okay telling me that I meant to search for “women’s group flyer?” I’d like to think that they’re not, but it’s hard to argue with Google. On the one hand, I feel good that I’m offering a service not found elsewhere. On the other, the implicit message that men’s therapy groups aren’t “normal” is just another reminder of how hard it can be for guys to seek support if they need it. I’m trying to imagine how I’d interpret this event if I was a man actually searching for a group to join, only to have it suggested that I meant to look for a women’s group.

Those are my thoughts for the day. I’d be curious to hear others’ reactions or experiences with this sort of thing. In the meantime, I’m going to upload my men’s group flyer to my website 🙂


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