We are an inquisitive species. Google receives three billion search queries a day from every corner of the globe, according to Google’s senior vice president of search, Amit Singhal.
Of all those searches, the topic we humans cared most about in 2015 was a story about a former basketball star who nearly died from a drug overdose at a Nevada brothel.
Yes, Lamar Odom was the world's top search term of the year. No. 2: "Charlie Hebdo" the satirical magazine that terrorists targeted in Paris back in January
And apparently I know nothing about the global zeitgeist because I had never even heard of the third-most Googled topic. "Agar.io” is a video game of little brightly colored balls floating around and gobbling up smaller brightly colored balls.
Next on the list reminds us that we all love movies. “Jurassic World” was the fourth-most searched term of the year.
And finally, perhaps a little later than you might have guessed, our search turned to the attacks last month in Paris.
Singhal says the response to the November terrorist attacks that killed 130 people happened almost immediately. Within a couple of minutes of the first blasts, people in the city were asking What’s happening in Paris?
“And within 10 minutes the entire world was searching for it,” Singhal says. “Soon the searching changed to praying for Paris. It was the compassion it was the positivity of people and everyone wanted to help.”
Something similar happened after other big tragedies this year.
On Google's list of global news events, Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere back in October, showed up right after the Paris attacks. So did the rise of ISIS, and the earthquake in Nepal that killed about 9,000 people in April.
But we humans have a diverse set of interests. “There's always a local flavor to what people search for,” Singhal says.
In the United States, we loved searching for Caitlyn Jenner. In India, Bollywood and cricket were big. Canadians loved the Toronto Blue Jays and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In Mexico, among the top searches: Chapo Guzman and Cincuenta Sombras de Gray. (You guessed it, 50 Shades of Gray.)
In 2015, I think it’s fair to say we searched to entertain ourselves despite the chaos going on around us. In the 15 years that Amit Singhal has been working at Google, he's learned the annual zeitgeist list really does say something about who we are.
“Increasingly, people expect open information to improve their lives,” he says. “And that’s what they ask us for.”
This segment aired on December 16, 2015.
Support the news
Support the news