2020 Has Been a Wild Year For Australian Google Searches

animal crossing google searches
Image: Leah Williams / Gizmodo Australia

You don’t need me to convince you it’s been a year. The start of the 2020s has been marked by a number of events that alone are horrific but together create a persistent feeling of defeat and general malaise for the wider population.

While the Australian bushfires originally started in the back half of 2019, they roared into 2020 disrupting much of Australian life as the new decade began. It felt as though little could get worse for Australians, but the beginnings of a global pandemic were brewing overseas and it arrived in full force by March.

Coronavirus further upended our lives with unrelenting determination, but it hasn’t been the only big event so far this year.

Google has released its top 20 searches year-on-year in Australia between January and June 2020, and it’s a sombre reminder of the hellish time we’ve had so far.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the top search spot is taken out by 2020’s biggest villain — coronavirus. In fact, 15 — or 75 per cent — of the top 20 phrases are tangentially related to the global pandemic, including panic-buying, hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

The non-coronavirus Google searches included Kobe Bryant, the Black Lives Matter movement, Animal Crossing, Bushfires in Australia and TikTok.

With the exception of Kobe Bryant and the bushfires, you could even argue the increased popularity of both Animal Crossing and TikTok — great forms of escapism — were related to being stuck in the monotony of lockdown. It’s also possible the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations were further fuelled by a harsh government response to those struggling under restrictions in the United States.

Either way, few of the top searches were wholesome, and it reflects on the year we’ve had.

Top Google searches in Australia for 2020 so far

  1. Coronavirus
  2. Social Distancing
  3. Worldometers
  4. Panic buying
  5. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  6. Black Lives Matter
  7. Pandemic
  8. Hand sanitiser
  9. Animal Crossing
  10. Spanish flu
  11. Kobe Bryant
  12. Zoom Video Communications
  13. Social Isolation
  14. Quarantine
  15. Toilet paper
  16. Furlough
  17. TikTok
  18. Bushfires in Australia
  19. Epidemic
  20. Stockpile

With the list only representing the front half of the year, who knows what horrors or much-needed reliefs 2020 has saved up for us in its back half.