What We Can Learn About Ourselves From Google's 2015 Year In Search

Here's what we care about.

At the end of every year, we all switch into reflective mode, looking back on the events that stood out in the previous twelve months. Pop culture sites highlight the best of the best in TV, film, music, and more, while broader publications discuss world events, tech trends, politics, and beyond. Perhaps most equipped to discuss a year in the life of humanity are the companies that so many turn to for communication and questions via the Internet. The king of them, of course, being Google.

Embarrassing or weird searches included, there's a wealth of information that can be gleaned from what people type, tap, or say into a Google search bar over time. For 2015, the search giant put together a visual depicting the impact of major search trends throughout the year. Featured prominently in November are the Paris terror attacks, which have prompted almost 900 million queries to date. By sheer volume, next up on the graph are the 2015 Oscars (406M+), the Cricket World Cup (323M+), the Rugby World Cup (246M+), and Star Wars (155M+). Each topic allows you to click through to learn more about how searches on that story spread, with added visuals and graphs.


Google has also broken down the top 10 searches by category, including people, movies, TV shows, sporting events, consumer tech, and more. At the top of both the world search and people lists is Lamar Odom, while the Copa America topped world sporting events and the iPhone 6S topped consumer tech. In general, the trends aren't all that surprising — Donald Trump was the most searched politician and Adele the most search musical artist, for example. This does say something about how in tune we are to the media and different sources of news, however.

More than ever, 2015 was a year of tech growing closer to people and people growing closer to tech. We're glued to our smartphones, but specifically to the products within them. Whether it's through Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or any number of communication and news apps, the experience of acquiring and discussing news has rapidly evolved to move at the speed we do and respond directly to how we live our lives. Google's search trends are rather unsurprising because we're more in the moment than ever before — we don't need to wait until the end of the year to see a big picture of what happened, because we're constantly in the big picture every moment of every day.

Switching into reflective mode at the end of the year with year-end lists and search trends and the like is commonplace and, of course, does give us a few warm or painful reminders of what passed. What Google's Year in Search continues to demonstrate about us year after year though, is that we're full of jerk reactions, for better or for worse. Once we hear about something noteworthy, we'll guzzle everything important about it immediately, reactions and reactions to the reactions included, then move onto what's next. Google tells us plenty about how we search, but even more about how we are. At the end of 2015, we're very much human, but we're humans in the midst of a constant avalanche of information, evolving at breakneck speed in how we consume and react to it. Just wait until you see who we are by this time in 2016.

Cover image: Google via YouTube


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