As we see lil’ baby 2021 peeking her head over the horizon, it's hard not to reflect on the monstrous troll year that was 2020.
2020 was brutal. Just a down and out slog in which days seemed to be months, weeks seemed to be years, and months felt like eons. Over the year, we asked lots of questions about ourselves, our mortality, and the news happening around us.
Thankfully, we have a tool that allows us to look back at the profound questions and interests Canadians had over the past year: the Google trends page.
The U.S. election, coronavirus, and Kobe Bryant were the top three searches in Canada. (Zoom and CERB ranked, very depressingly, as the fourth and sixth most searched terms.) In terms of people, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris were the three most searched individuals. Shockingly, outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t on the list but Tom Hanks, Shakira, and alleged Jeffrey Epstein conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell are.
That's all fun and interesting but it's bar trivia stuff. What we’re here for are the deep probing questions Canadians asked their Google machines in this, our darkest hour. For the fourth year in a row, I will do my patriotic duty and address the questions Canadians were begging to have answered this year.
Why are people buying toilet paper?
No one knows exactly why TP was the thing people fixated on in the early stages of the pandemic (other than we were all assuredly pooping at home in greater numbers than ever before,) but there’s no denying that it was a hot commodity. In fact, I even wrote an entire article breaking down how much toilet paper you would need to survive a quarantine—the answer is to buy a 12 pack of TP (a plumber’s dozen).
Despite having a strong supply chain, people thought their bum paper was going away. They were wrong, but the fact that toilet paper is bulky, making it harder to keep shelves and stores fully stocked, did wonders to pass on a false sense of scarcity.
And so, many stores reported selling out of toilet paper. Some people picked it up because they thought the world was ending. Others purchased it because they thought the panicked people were going to buy it all. More entrepreneurial types bought it to resell like some sort of trader in a diarrhea-tinted version of Waterworld. As one TP hoarder told VICE during the initial freakout: “I’m buying this because I can see everyone panicking, so I’m also panicking,”
We’re all lemmings, in the end, you see.
What is a pandemic?
This. This is a pandemic. It sucks.
How to make a sourdough starter?
I’ve never made sourdough but what I can suss out from those who do, and never shut up about it, is that sourdough starter isn’t something you make. It needs to be gifted down to you like a family heirloom or earned through a series of challenges like Excalibur. Everyone who has ever made sourdough bread has a long-winded, boring-as-hell story on where the starter came from. You must never ask about this.
What does WAP mean?
Oh, honey. It means Wet Ass Pussy. I’ve heard it’ll make that pull out game weak.
What is Antifa?
Antifa is shorthand for anti-fascist and refers to an international decentralized group of people who organize for anti-fascist causes. These days, they’re most known for their presence at street protests, and those protests can lead to violent encounters with counter-protestors or vandalism. They're also the boogeymen for the right, who falsely equate them to neo-Nazis and virulent racists. Whispering the term “Antifa” is enough to strike fear in the hearts of many people who spend too much time on the bad parts of the internet.
What is fracking?
Fracking is a mining process through which a substance made of water, sand, and chemicals is shot into the ground so forcefully it cracks the rocks below, releasing natural gas and oil. It’s long been described as an environmental nightmare that has been linked to flammable tap water and earthquakes. I assume this question is being asked because it was something oddly tied to Biden as both a good and bad thing.
What is Coronavirus?
I assume you’ve learned the answer to this already but if not: it’s a virus and it’s, uh, not great.
What time is the U.S. election?
It wasn’t a set time, more a day, and that day was November 3. And for millions of Trump fans, that day is still ongoing.
What is Juneteenth?
Hey! Here we go, some good questions that enrich Canadians' knowledge about important subjects! Juneteenth is an unofficial holiday down south. It falls on June 19 and celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the United States. There is a push to make it an actual nationwide holiday.
Why is it called COVID-19?
Well, according to the World Health Organization, (which I 100 percent didn’t just look up to help me answer this question) “in COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease”—the 19 comes from 2019, the year it started. The full name of the disease is coronavirus disease 2019. It’s definitely for the best we don’t name viruses like we do hurricanes.
How to make bread?
Do I look like Julia Child to you? No, no I do not.
That said, I’ve made this bread a few times while lapsing in and out of pandemic-induced baking spurts and it’s pretty darn easy.
How to make hand sanitizer?
At the start of the pandemic, people were making batches upon batches of hand sanitizer at home, as much of it was sold out in stores. According to Wired—where I get all my skincare tips—you just need three parts: Isopropyl alcohol, aloe vera gel, and a couple of drops of essential oil (they suggest tea tree oil). You mix that and badda-boom, badda-bing, you made hand sanitizer.
Why did 69 go to jail?
Rapper Tekashi69 pled guilty to a litany of charges related to conspiracy to commit murder in February 2019. While he was facing 47 years in prison, he testified against his co-conspirators and received only two years. He was released into home confinement in April 2020 because of COVID-19 risks and was fully released on August 1. He’s also been connected to domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, and a bunch of drug and weapons charges.
How to apply for EI?/How to apply for CERB?
To show how bad of a state Canada is in these were our first and third most asked questions of the year. The best tip I can give you is to start here. Good luck.
What happened with Jessica Mulroney?
Wow, finally, a Canadian celebrity scandal worthy of a Google search in 2020. In short, Mulroney, a.k.a. Meghan Markle’s BFF, was booted from her CTV reality series after allegedly threatening to damage Black blogger Sasha Exeter’s career prospects after Exeter made an Instagram post calling out people with large platforms who were not speaking out about anti-Black racism.
How to get tested for the Coronavirus?
It’s pretty simple. Find your nearest location offering tests, go there, wait in line, and get someone to shove something up your nose. I got tested a few times and it sucks but it's doable. Thanks for asking responsible questions!
What is Blackout Tuesday?
This was a social media protest against anti-Black racism that took place June 2, 2020, following the killing of George Floyd. In the organizers’ words it was focused on the music industry and meant to hold those “who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable.” The main action was for social media users to go quiet on June 2 and post a black square on Instagram as a way to disrupt the industry. However, it was quickly co-opted by brands and influencers and subsequently criticized for drowning out the Black Lives Matter movement.
Why was George Floyd stopped?
For allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20. He was killed for an alleged fake $20 bill. Think about how infuriating that is.
Why is Australia on fire?
Australia had one of its most devastating bushfire seasons of all time this year. While a variety of factors affect the severity of bushfires, many scientists say climate change is playing a part in the intensity of the burns.
Why did Kobe have two numbers?
Kobe Bryant, who died in January, had two numbers retired with the Lakers. He’s the only NBA player to ever have this honour and it goes to show how great he truly was. When Bryant was younger and breaking into the league he used number 8, rather than his high school number 24. But, in 2006, when he was already established as a bonafide superstar, Kobe switched to 24 which he wore until his retirement in 2016.
How to cut your own hair?
Don’t cut it. Join me in the long hair club. We look cool and adults fear us. (Editor's note: Mack is a 30-year-old man.)
Why is Nevada taking so long?
Short answer: the Americans have a badly broken electoral system they need to fix.
Why is gas so cheap right now 2020?
This is the only question with 2020 in it and it makes the user sound like they’re asking a manifestation of the year 2020 a question. Why is life so bad, 2020? Why do I lay awake thinking of all the dumb shit I’ve done in high school, 2020? Will the Edmonton Oilers win a Cup with McDavid, 2020?
I’m no economist but 2020 saw a historic drop in demand for gasoline, which likely had something to do with falling prices, supply, demand, Adam Smith, etc.
How to use Zoom?
I’ve answered this question enough for my parents. I’m not doing it again for you.
Why did Alex leave Grey’s?
What? I have no idea what this question is referring to and I refuse, in principle, to look it up. All I know is this is a bad question and is most likely related to Grey's Anatomy. (Editor’s note: Grey’s Anatomy is now in its 17th season, which is impressive until you learn American Dad! and NCIS are also in their 17th season.)
Why is TikTok being banned?
It’s not. Trump said something stupid about TikTok and, yadda yadda yadda, a bunch of news stories were written about it, but nothing happened. Please purge this news story from your mind.
Actually, my fair reader, let’s do one better. If you can, please purge this whole damn year from your mind as well.
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