Google thought it might be a fun idea to let the world know the top ten things people in different countries have searched for over the past year. Well, it wasn’t. It was a terrible idea. It might be fine for countries that have citizens who spend their days searching for truth, happiness and the meaning of life, but for a country like ours, it’s just downright embarrassing.
South Africa’s top trending question of 2019 was, “Why were cornflakes invented?” Look, I think it’s healthy that people ask questions. Don’t take anything for granted. Keep asking until you get answers. But cornflakes above what happens when you die? Or is there a god? Or why can’t you get a decent bunny chow in Cape Town?
“Why were cornflakes invented?” doesn’t strike me as a question that a mentally sound adult would ask the global hive mind. Please let it not be. I can only imagine that every ten-year-old with a smartphone has googled this question at least once. If I had had a magical device that answered everything at that age, I might have also wanted to know why my mother was feeding me cornflakes for breakfast rather than, say, a plate of chips covered in bacon and cheese and why it was even necessary to invent this abominable cereal killer.
A lot of children in our country are lucky to get a pebble to suck on in the morning and they wouldn’t have been among those asking this ridiculous question. Anyway, a pebble is probably healthier. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s yummy weedkiller Roundup, has been found in corn-based products made by Kellogg’s and other companies. Sugar disguises the taste of the cancer, but still. Perhaps it is understandable why so many people wanted to know why this crunchy poison was invented. I don’t know what the answer is and I’m not going to google it because then I’ll be just like the rest of you and, quite frankly, I’d sooner eat cornflakes.
Third on the list was, “How many votes for a seat in parliament?” This was googled multiple times with increasing frequency by Kanthan Pillay in May this year. The question is unlikely to trend again until the next general election.
Number 4 on the list was, “How did Cameron Boyce die?” I would have imagined that #5 would have been, “Who is Cameron Boyce?” But no. It was, “How long is a rugby match?” Guys, you might think your women are quite happy playing with their phones while you watch the game, but they’re trying to find out if they have enough time to slip out for a quickie with Dave who doesn’t have a telly. Please don’t google “Who the fuck is Dave?”
Question 9 was, “What is media?” I presume this was asked by people who live in caves and have never seen a newspaper or any kind of electronic device. I’d like to meet them some day. If you’re one of them and you are reading this, send a smoke signal. I’ll be along shortly with a bottle of tequila. And maybe a shotgun.
Coming in at #10 is this gem. “What is teenage pregnancy?” Quite frankly, I don’t know how all these people managed to type this into Google given the amount of drool that must have been dripping onto their device.
Bumping cornflakes into second spot, the top search of the entire decade was, “How to make slime.” I thought it would be obvious. Chop politicians up and feed the bits into a blender.
Countless South Africans also wanted to know “How to lose weight in 3 days.” My lifestyle is predicated upon leaving things until the last minute, but this is on another level altogether. Who looks in the mirror on a Tuesday and realises that terrible things will happen if they don’t lose 30kg by Friday?
Our troglodytes who struggle to grasp concepts like media and teenage pregnancies also wanted to know “How to grow hair fast?” and “How to draw eyebrows.” Making me slightly less ashamed to be South African, the 5th most asked question of the decade was, “Where am I?” It’s a question that frequently crosses my mind, but never to an extent that I have thought to google it. Perhaps I have never been drunk enough. No, that’s not it.
Topping the trending searches list for not only the year but also the decade is “load shedding”. No surprises there, then. It used to be that people were curious to know more about this fresh hell lurching into their lives. Now we know. And yet, we don’t. Schrodinger’s power station.
Thanos, too, features on both lists. Derived from Thanatos, the personification of death and immortality. South Africans are not complete morons after all. They want to know about Greek mythology. No, wait. This Thanos is a comic-book anti-hero. Sigh.
Coming in at #9 for the decade is Teacher’s Day, presumably searched by teachers under the impression that this is the one day of the year when they are legally entitled to come to work drunk and engage in sex-for-marks orgies with teenage girls who haven’t yet got around to googling what pregnancy means.
It’s hard to believe that nothing related to genitalia made it into the top ten searches. It’s just not possible. Not for South Africans. We are endlessly fascinated with our and other people’s bits. I imagine if you’re not very bright and you eventually manage to find out what teenage pregnancy means, you will sooner or later stumble upon Pornhub and go blind in a relatively short space of time.
This can only be a good thing.