Latest Best of NY

Nina In New York: It’s Zeitgeist Time. What Was Trending In 2012?

Christmas In NYC
(credit:  LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

____________________

By Nina Pajak

In the past, it’s been difficult to define the zeitgeist of a particular era or year or region. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet, Google in particular, this is no longer the case. Not only can we define it:

zeit·geist

/ˈtsītˌgīst/

Noun
The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

but Google has gone one step further to release the top trending searches, images, events, places, people, and innermost thoughts broken down by country, and aggregated globally. Since we live in this country, I thought we could focus on our Google zeitgeist.

First, we should probably define Google’s terminology. They define “trending” to mean, “Search queries with the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011.” And “most searched” is pretty obviously explained as, “Search queries with the largest volume of searches.”

So, now that that’s done, let’s hone in on some highlights.

The top 5 trending searches are:

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Hurricane Sandy
  3. Election 2012
  4. Hunger Games
  5. Jeremy Lin

No surprises there, except for the fact that Jeremy Lin’s star obviously burned even brighter than I could have imagined, for the short time that it did. He beat out the Olympics, KONY 2012 and Gagnam style. Whoa. Linsanity reigns. Or, reigned.

Now let’s move on to the top five trending “How to” searches. Get ready to get sad:

  1. How to love
  2. How to rock
  3. How to vote
  4. How to install
  5. How to hate

Oh, America. Are we really so lonely and emotionally disconnected? What do you think the Internet can tell you that your heart cannot? Unless it’s just in reference to the Lil Wayne song. By way of comparison, the corresponding search in Finland in 2012 was “Kuinka Saada Kuume,” which evidently translates (roughly, I hope) to “How to get a fever.” In Italy, it was “Come fare Sesso,” which I will not go to the trouble of translating here on this family-friendly website. Go ahead and Google it, if you want. Let’s just say their priorities do not align with ours. And the British, of course, are all burning to know how to . . . draw. Yeah, no, there’s no innuendo there. They just really want to know how to draw better. Aw. Sweet.

There are so many more fascinating lists which I encourage you to check out yourself, but I only get like 500 words here. So I will wrap this up with one last, and most shocking conclusion. And for this, we broaden our scope to include the whole world. Here are the top trending TV shows of 2012:

  1. BBB12
  2. Avenida Brasil
  3. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
  4. The Voice
  5. American Idol

From this, we can infer two disturbing and extremely telling facts. One, that Brazilians really love television. I mean, how does one single country whose native language is only spoken in, like, two countries on earth, dominate the top two spots for globally trending television shows? It astounds. But two, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is the #3 most trafficked television show IN THE WORLD. This. This is our contribution to the global cultural zeitgeist, at least as far as TV is concerned (in other categories, we are also world-famous for producing Whitney Houston, Selena Gomez, and The Hunger Games). If Google were to take it one step further, I’d love to know the context in which “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” was being searched. Like, was it just naive curiosity, or were people in France searching “Pour quoi do all Americans look like ze peeple on ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?'” Were people in Finland attempting to induce feverish symptoms so that they could hallucinate themselves into a world where this show does not exist? Perhaps.

Well, whatever. There’s always next year.