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A year inside: What did we Google in 2020?

Sandra Kim, winner of The Masked Singer. © VTM

The past year has been one of the worst in recent history, and when times are hard, we turn to the internet. And when we did, what were we looking for?

Well, when it comes to search, there’s really only Google, and Google keeps track of every search operation carried out, across the globe, and compiles them into Google Trends.

In global trends, the most common search term, unsurprisingly, was coronavirus, followed by election results (not specified), Kobe Bryant, Zoom and IPL, which is the Indian Premier League.

In the category People, Joe Biden narrowly beat Kim Jong Un, who narrowly beat Boris Johnson, while Big Brother Brasil was the second most-searched TV programme after Tiger King.

Focusing in on Belgium, and search behaviour is quite different.

The top Belgian personality was Sean Dhondt, a Flemish TV presenter and singer, followed by Delphine Lecompte, a Flemish poet who became a BV in 2020 (a bekende Vlaming, or well-known Flemish person) thanks to her appearances on the TV quiz for BVs, De Slimste Mens.

You have to travel down to number three to find a French-speaking personality in the person of Sandra Kim, who won Eurovision in 1986 when she was only 13. Kim made a comeback of sorts when she won the Masked Singer TV competition in November.

Politicians who dominated Google search in 2020 were almost entirely predictable: prime ministers Sophie Wilmès and Alexander De Croo and health ministers Maggie De Block and Frank Vandenbroucke.

And then Petra De Sutter, in first place no less, who made the rankings for being the first transgender minister in a Belgian government – a fact that made international news.

Given that many people were confined at home for long periods, you’d expect the How-To section of search to offer a variety of activities.

Not so much. In first place, how to make a mask. 2. How to delete an Instagram account. 3. How to delete a Facebook account.

Those are followed by how to know if you have coronavirus; how to lose weight; how to make a selfie with Dorian Rossini (a French singer); how to make bread; how to put on a face mask; how to purge a radiator; and how to calculate your BMI.

Interesting footnote: the top five How-To searches of the antediluvian year of 2019 were hardly any different: How to vote in the European elections, lose weight, delete an Instagram account, lose belly fat and purge a radiator.

Some things never change.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times