Every December, Google releases “The Year in Search,” which sheds light on what the world was most interested in during the last spin around the sun. This year, the company added the most popular “how-to” searches to its global list—and in 2017 they are strange and kind of bleak.
In a blog post about “the questions we asked in 2017,” Google data editor Simon Rogers wrote, “2017 was the year we asked ‘how…?’ How do wildfires start? How to calm a dog during a storm? How to make a protest sign?”
Rogers’ blog post focuses on altruistic queries. “Hurricanes devastated the Caribbean, Houston and Florida. An earthquake struck Mexico City. Famine struck Somalia, and Rohingya refugees fled for safety,” he wrote. “In these moments and others, our collective humanity shined as we asked ‘how to help’ more than ever before.”
He also shared a video that showcased this societal concern, showing queries like “how to help flood victims,” “how to help refugees,” “how to help Puerto Rico,” “how to run for office,” and “how to make a difference.”
But the actual list of top 10 how-to searches shows the world’s top priorities were not learning how to help people. It seems people were more curious about personal financial issues, with top searches like “how to buy Bitcoin,” “how to freeze your credit,” and “how to play Powerball.”
It’s no surprise that the solar eclipse is on the list twice, as Americans across the country were scrambling to figure out how to watch the solar eclipse without damaging their eyes. And tens of millions watched the highly anticipated Mayweather-McGregor fight, many of them illegally.
We’re very curious how many people actually built DIY fidget spinners, but not so curious how many people lost belly fat fast.
But the thing most people wanted to know was how to make slime. In America, that query rose from number four on the list last year to number one in 2017. It seems strangely appropriate that as our country becomes more divided and fearful of nuclear war and civil upheaval, more and more people just want to occupy themselves by playing with goopy ooze.
For those who still want to know how to make slime, here’s a great Gizmodo explainer.