Thursday, April 25, 2024

Here's what you searched most in 2020

| December 10, 2020 1:00 AM

Never have we lived more online than in 2020. Whether in quarantine, working from home, or just bored out of our skulls with less to do and more to worry about “out there,” virtual reality has been king.

Other than intensifying social media obsessions, Americans used that time to quench curiosities about topics both obvious (election and coronavirus) and bizarre (virtual EDC rave).

Google’s annual “Year in Search” list released Wednesday may be perhaps the most interesting for years to come. So many unusual things happened in 11 of the longest months we’ve seen in our lifetimes.

Tracking spikes in searches compared to 2019, Google saw a lot of “why,” such as “why is the NBA postponed?” and the predictable “why is toilet paper sold out?” But “why” was No. 1 in the U.S. “why were chain saws invented?”

2020’s top 10 searches globally were:

  1. Coronavirus
  2. Election results
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Zoom
  5. IPL (Indian Premier League — cricket)
  6. India vs New Zealand
  7. Coronavirus update
  8. Coronavirus symptoms
  9. Joe Biden
  10. Google Classroom

Other popular searches included entertainment, sports, and recipes — with six breads in the top 10 (plus ekmek custard and lachmacun — a sort of meat pizza).

Limiting searches to the U.S., the top 10 were very similar:

  1. Election results
  2. Coronavirus
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Coronavirus update
  5. Coronavirus symptoms
  6. Zoom
  7. Who is winning the election
  8. Naya Rivera
  9. Chadwick Boseman
  10. PlayStation 5

But not all searches were about entertaining ourselves — people were also focused on each other. The "how to help" category indicated people looked for ways to help the Black Lives Matter movement, humanitarian crises in Yemen, and someone having a panic attack, as well as how to donate blood.

The lists are ranked globally, by category, and by country. See them all at

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who had to look up Naya Rivera. (She's the actress who died in July, saving her 4-year-old son but drowning herself.) Email Sholeh: