We all have a lot of extra time (and sanitizer) on our hands. And Google search trends hint at what we’re doing with it.
Quietly, one of the most profound consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the unprecedented loss of diversions. Going to the gym, hitting the bar, heck — even having friends over for dinner — it’s all on hold for the foreseeable future.
In their place, we’ve inherited a strange new substitute: time. Want to learn the guitar? Go for it. Want to get into the best shape of your life? Cool, here’s how. Need to catch up on that honey-do list? Here are some simple home improvement projects.
There’s just one thing to remember — Google knows what you’re doing (what you’re searching, anyway). We decided to look at what search trends have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic.
And while there’s no way to know everything that has spiked in the last month or so, we can definitely pinpoint some of the more interesting patterns.
We looked into Google searches that have seen dramatic upticks in the last 4-6 weeks compared to the last 5 years. This roughly mirrors the timeline of national and global stay-at-home orders and the coronavirus response. As a baseline, this is what the Google trend for “coronavirus” looks like:
As you can see, virtually no one searched for “coronavirus” from 2015 into this year. And, no surprise, it spiked dramatically in mid-March.
So, we wondered, “what else spiked over the same timeline?” Get it? Good. Let’s see what people have been Googling — and learning — during these strange, uncertain times.
Google Trends During Coronavirus
First and foremost, this is not a scientific study by any means. And it doesn’t reflect the top search terms during the pandemic. Searches like “how to make a facemask” and “coronavirus symptoms” obviously dominate most queries.
We looked at search terms that topped out at some point during this time — from roughly mid-February through March.
And, of course, it’s not an exhaustive list. There are no doubt hundreds or thousands of searches we don’t cover here. But we culled a handful of interesting results that offer a glimpse into what we — at least some of us — are wondering.
Heck. Yes! We are here for wine delivery and, apparently, so are you. Forget toilet paper and rice, vino is clearly the staple we’ll need to get through this.
There is just no way anyone could have predicted a spike in the search for TP. But it happened, and it’s one of the strangest phenomenons we’ve witnessed. Also, why search just “toilet paper”?!
How to Make Fire
On the one hand, this is always a good skill to have. Although, on the other hand, why do you need to make fire at home — in the springtime?
This is doubly curious when you take into account that many campgrounds and parks, places where you’d typically need to make a fire, are closed.
How to Make Bleach
This seems reasonable given the current state of affairs. For the record, equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water will do the disinfectant trick!
How to Purify Water
This one seems a little less reasonable. Right now, the best way to obtain clean water is straight from your tap, not sucking it out of a puddle in your backyard.
But, if you must know, check out our handy list of best backpacking water filters and purifiers.
How to Cut Your Own Hair
Sure, you can cut your own hair. But should you? Maybe let those freaky locks go — or shave your head. Either way.
We get it, a bunch of us are shacked up with a significant other — birds, bees, and all that. But this particular query spiked this week after Bloomberg reported Thailand’s largest condom manufacturer hit maximum output.
Best Guns for Self-Defense
OK, you’re worried people are going to try and steal all your toilet paper and condoms. That’s fine. However …
… One would hope you’d see a similar spike in “gun safety” demand. But, according to Google Trends, folks are more interested in buying guns than actually learning how to use them responsibly. C’mon folks, let’s up this number too.
Flights to Antarctica
Interest in travel to Antarctica is always erratic. But we can’t help but notice that exactly when news of a pandemic began to spread, people became especially curious about flying to the bottom of the Earth. Good luck with that.
How to Build a Boat
Here’s one we can get behind — learn to sail the open seas. Build your own boat. To be fair, the high point for “how to build a boat” actually occurred last year. But that got us thinking: If building a boat didn’t top out during the pandemic, maybe …
How to Steal a Boat
… There it is. Way to go, humanity. It’s been touch-and-go these last 5 years, but people were most interested in stealing someone else’s boat right as the U.S. started to see its first cases of coronavirus.
Learn Sign Language
Why suddenly such a keen interest in picking up sign language? Our best guess: Some experts have suggested that certain languages actually spread the virus through droplets more readily than others. And what better way to say-it-not-spray-it than to speak with your hands?
Where Can I Buy a Tiger?
How to Help
What do you say we end it on a high note? Lest you think people are resigned to selfishly hoarding supplies and avoiding all human contact, the simple search “how to help” saw its highest volume in the last week.