What Did We Google in 2016? By @augustine_cerf

Augustine Cerf

By Augustine Cerf


What Did We Google in 2016?


“2016 is the worst year ever” has risen to the status of cliché in an impressively short time span. I’m pleased about this because its hyperbolic nature allows us to rescue a slither of gleefulness out of what has undeniably been a shocking revolution around the sun.

The idea that we have lived through “the worst” year gives us the not-so-well earnt sense that we have truly lived. We’ve feel accomplished for having experienced “the worst”; an absolute that brings with it a sense of triumph. We can later tell our kids “You’ve heard about the worst, well, I’ve actually been there. I lived it, I breathed it, kids. You couldn’t understand.” I wonder how many worst years there have been.


New Year’s Eve lulls us into a feeling that we, by surviving just another day, might turn another leaf, over into a post-“worst year” era, in which the rise of nationalism can be quietly forgotten, sealed off into ‘the worst year’. No one famous will die in 2017, we whisper to ourselves tonight, whilst the illusion of the ‘fresh start’ reigns, fuelling the midnight hook-ups and dulling the crippling sense of disappointment that underpins all New Year’s Eves. The idea that we can put a cordon sanitaire around 2016 as we move into 2017 is dangerous: Trump and Brexit aren’t going anywhere.


But since it’s New Year’s Eve, I’ll be a good sport and I’ll dance the dance. Here is a list of Britain’s worst most Googled searches for the worst year ever, as recently published by Google.


  1. Worst example of complete political apathy: ‘How to lose weight well’ coming 3 points ahead of ‘How to vote for EU Referendum’ for how to searches.

Only one of these is even a proper sentence. 

  1. Worst dystopian triumph: ‘What is Pokemon Go?’ more searched for than ‘What is Brexit?’


  1. Worst example of the worrying collapse of mankind into total delusion: ‘How to stay young’ #3 how to search.
    Proof that everyone’s marbles have been eternally misplaced and that no one has learnt anything from Dorian Gray’s plight. 2016 was the year of totally ignoring history and all its cautionary tales.

  2. Worst throwback to 2008: ‘How to do a smokey eye’, #5 beauty search.
    I was banned from Boots, aged 12 or 13, because I desperately wanted to do smokey eye. The only thing cooler than smokey eye was shoplifting the necessary equipment.
  3. Worst aspiration: ‘How to appear funny’ #8 how to search.
    If you’re going to try to master the art of comedy, at least go the whole hog and actually be The implicit defeatism of this search is quite appalling.
  4. Worst case of X Factor polluting our minds: Honey G #3 most Googled woman.


  1. Worst nondescript ambiguity: ‘How to lose weight well’ #2 how to search.
    Fast, I could understand. Easily, a wise choice. Healthily, a crucial caveat. But ‘well’? Well is the enemy of stupendously, I say. A close runner up for Worst Aspiration. (Note: I’ve since Googled this and realized it’s a Channel 4 show, but, notwithstanding, a terribly named Channel 4 show.)
  2. Worst trigger: ‘How to make batter for fish’ #1 cooking search.

I often threaten my friends with the enforcement of trigger warnings for all mentions of gluten and fancy myself quite the comedian when I do so, so I’m gratuitously chucking that one in here before the year is up and I have to come up with new jokes about my gluten intolerance.

  1. Worst unexpected winner: Donald Trump #1 politician.

  2. Worst curveball: Blueberry wine #1 recipe.
    This seems quite niche but I think I’m mostly a bit upset that I didn’t come up with this avant-garde concoction myself. It’s a real shame when everyone starts to Google something before you have time to invent it. The key thing we can learn from this search is that people cooked more alcohol than food in 2016, which might explain quite a lot.
  3. Worst disappointment: there is no mention of crafts of any sort in the ‘how to’ or ‘what is’ categories, which means people aren’t all that interested in making things that aren’t blueberry wine.


  1. Worst priorities: Toblerone #8 and Nice Attack #10 for news events. I’d like to think that terrorist attacks are more important than chocolate bars changing shape.
  2. Worst regressive indulgence through pets: ‘Dog birthday cake’ #10 recipes.
    You’re making this cake for yourself and for no one else. Your dog doesn’t know it’s its birthday. The fact that people are actually slaving away making cakes for their dogs – it wouldn’t surprise me if some were for their dogs’ birthday parties – is troublesome to me. It’s self-indulgence ricocheted off a dog. I’m happy for people to be self-serving as long as they’re real about it. The insipid obsession with animals has to stop, starting with cat videos. The whole thing is a dumbing down when it’s taken this far.
  3. Worst hobby: ‘How to make slime’ #7 how to.


I’ll end my list of worsts with a more hopeful Google trend because that’s just how these kinds of listicles end (a word that would long have fallen out of common parlance were it not for its fortuitous resemblance to ‘testicles’) and I find it fitting to open and end with cliché.


David Bowie beat Donald Trump overall, which in many ways restores my faith in a humanity that makes cakes for dogs and is too busy losing weight well to care about a referendum. At least people are doing something well.


To end on a real cliché, however, given that Bowie, a man fundamentally resistant to banality, is the anti-cliché incarnate, I’ll throw you a final bone: ‘How to accept myself for who I am’ #10 how to.



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