2021 has been one big question mark: Will life be like this forever? What the fuck is a T-cell? Will I ever be able to go to a club without sticking a large cotton bud up my nose beforehand? What is the statistical chance of me catching COVID if I go outside, on a scale of one to ten? Did Jen Shah from the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City really steal millions of dollars from elderly people?
Luckily we have Google now, which means that, like Ask Jeeves before it, we can just type questions into a box and receive answers. This is how I know that pigeons produce milk out of their throats and that the reason we don't see white dog poo anymore is because they stopped making dog food with bones in the 90s. Fascinating!
I'm not the only person Googling dumb shit. Google released their annual “year in search” in December, and it turns out a lot of people in the UK have been typing the same questions into the search engine.
With that in mind, here are the ten most Googled questions in the UK – and their answers – to stop you from Googling dumb shit next year, too.
10) When does ‘Love Island’ finish?
Love Island series seven finished on the 23rd of August, 2021. I know this because I, too, breathed a sigh of relief when I could stop watching bronzed 19-year-olds in white spray-on jeans swap forever bracelets before breaking up on Instagram Live. The real question, however, is when does the next season begin?
There was not a winter edition of Love Island this year because we can barely leave the house without “mutant” variants pumping through our nasal passages, but Love Island season eight will presumably begin in June 2022.
9) What does ‘impeachment’ mean?
Impeachment might sound like a novel sex act, but it's just the process of removing a high-ranking government official from office for a number of offences (senators have to vote, like a jury). Donald Trump is the only US president in history to have been impeached twice, although he was acquitted the second time for reasons that not even Google fully understands.
A British prime minister could technically face impeachment, but no prime minister has ever been impeached in the UK and if we've learned anything from this year it's that politicians can do anything, literally anything on this earth, and all that will happen are angry tweets.
8) How many cases in my area?
If you’re in the UK, you can check this interactive map to see how many coronavirus cases are in your area. However, I highly recommend you do not do that. It’s like finding out what you’re most likely to die from, or the shit people have said about you behind your back. Morbidly exciting in the moment and then all downhill from there. Nope, not for me.
7) How many times has Italy won the Euros?
Italy have won the Euros twice. England have won the Euros zero times. Congratulazioni!
6) Where does vanilla flavouring come from?
Hiya! Did you know that beaver's secrete a goo-like substance from their butts called castoreum? They use it to mark their territory. I know what you're thinking: ‘Why is she telling me this? Did she not see the question?’ Actually I did, and this is the answer. Artificial vanilla flavouring does not come from vanilla pods, as you may have initially thought while you were among the millions who Googled this in the middle of making lockdown banana bread. It comes from beaver butts. I’m so, so sorry.
Here is a real quote from Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Michigan State University: “You can milk the anal glands so you can extract the fluid.”
But don't worry too much. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, beaver butt juice is “generally regarded as safe” and manufacturers have been using it extensively in perfumes and foods for at least 80 years.
5) When will I get the vaccine?
You can book it right now via the NHS website.
4) What does COP26 stand for?
Wish I could say COP26 stands for something cool like “Crimes of the People”. But it just stands for “Conference of the Parties”, and it’s the 26th time that said parties have gotten together for said environmental conference, hence: COP26.
3) When will lockdown end?
It’s weird: Don’t you feel like, after a while, all the lockdowns and non-lockdowns of 2021 kind of blended into one confusing miasma where you were either going out and feeling bad about it, or staying in and feeling bad about it? And now it’s just one continuous bad feeling?
To answer the question: England’s third lockdown came into place on the 6th of January and ended on the 19th of July, meaning the country was in some form of lockdown for over six months.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also took similar measures at the same time, with a stay at home order issued widely across the UK as a whole.
2) Is WhatsApp down?
No – I've checked it eight to nine times while writing this piece. Maybe more. I don't even look at the screen properly anymore. I just jerk my face towards the space where it lays and kind of manically swipe my thumb across the glass, before returning to this screen. Sick in the head, honestly.
1) Is Facebook down?
There is something deeply, deeply bleak about this being the UK's single most asked question of 2021. Think of all the questions that are out there, waiting to be asked: What's inside a black hole? Why is hippo milk pink? How many times is it possible to fall in love? But no, it was: Is Facebook down? Is Facebook down?? Let the question roll around your mind for a moment, and remember that it’s what the UK cared to ask the most in 2021: Is Facebook down?
What about how old Dolly Parton is, or why humans can’t eat grass or when the world might conceivably end?? Anyway, Facebook is not down right now, but it was for six to seven hours on the 4th of October, along with along with WhatsApp, Instagram and its other subsidiaries. Also, it’s called Meta now.