“We have become so dependent on off-loading, on relieving our brains from keeping certain basic, human information in storage, that we’ve forgotten how to do some fairly basic grown-up tasks.” That’s visualization editor Xaquín G.V. describing the results of his latest experiment, a collaboration with Google News Lab that looks at the world’s most popular “How To” searches.
The data essay, How To Fix a Toilet, is a dive into the things we ask Google to help with–questions for which we might have once turned to a peer or a book. Many of those searches have to do with fixing our space: toilets, doors, and washing machines. Others are just basic “being an adult” stuff: How to boil an egg? How to tie a tie? How to get rid of ants? Some are more personal, like queries for how to meditate or how to kiss someone. “How to lose weight,” another popular ask, peaks in January.
And then there’s the real kicker: How to be happy, which appears fairly high in the rankings. Two decades ago, we might have pondered that question aloud or asked our friends or loved ones. Today, we query a screen. Check out the full essay for yourself right here.