Ever since Google became a verb, people have ceased utilizing much else for their queries, from the trivial ("How many Stanley Cups has Canada won?") to the philosophical ("What is the meaning of life?").
But in 2012, those searches go well beyond the minor matters that crop up in everyday life, and instead extend both into current events and, naturally, the latest trends. As Google Canada's Zeitgeist for 2012 revealed, hashtags aren't enough to satisfy our curiosity — trending topics require a little more insight.
So why are people looking to a search engine for these answers instead of, say, just asking the people they're with? Well, that varies depending on the subject matter. It's entirely possible they're embarrassed for not already knowing the answer to "What is Instagram?", or want a slightly more extensive response to "What is gluten?" than "You must try these cookies I just made. Then you'll get it."
And besides, Google has a way of revealing people's thoughts on matters in sneaky ways. Take, for example, the most common auto-completes for the provinces and territories, which found that when it comes to Canada, we're more often than not wondering why it's so darn cold.
SEE: The most common definitions sought in Canada in 2012. Have something you were wondering about? Let us know in the comments, and we'll give it our own Google-like try at an explanation:
10. What Is Autism?
What you're probably looking for: A clear-cut definition of a condition that seems to come up in every other medical study, especially those relating to children
What you'll find: A complicated explanation for a complicated brain disorder, one which recently had its criteria changed in the upcoming DSM-5. Known as falling on a "spectrum," the interest in the condition comes from an increased rate of diagnosis in recent years.
9. What Is Dubstep?
What you're probably looking for: Some videos that might be able to explain just what genre of music Skillrex (shown here) won three awards for at the Grammys
What you'll find: A few articles that define dubstep as a sub-genre of electronic music, with the most comprehensive one undoubtedly coming from Gizmodo. A warning: It might be exactly what you expect it to be.
8. What Is Pinterest?
What you're probably looking for: A glimpse at this resource everyone you know keeps saying is "the best place to find recipes/decor ideas/lesson plans"
What you'll find: A link to the site, leading you down the black hole of beautiful images from around the 'net, as well as a lot of articles telling you why you will soon be "addicted." Which, yes, you will.
7. What Is Tumblr?
What you're probably looking for: An illustration of this "micro-blogging" tool you've heard so much about
What you'll find: An "About" site from Tumblr itself, explaining that you can put literally any form of media on its pages for exhibition (huh?), as well as a step-by-step video that may have some more practical use
6. What Is Scientology?
What you're probably looking for: The reason why Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes could have broke up ... or the religion beloved by many a celeb
What you'll find: Famously secretive, it's interesting to note the first result brings about Scientology beliefs and practices (example: "Man is an immortal spiritual being"), while others are articles explaining the history — with no one clear answer to be found
5. What Is Instagram?
What you're probably looking for: A fully laid out answer about the smartphone app that all your friends keep saying they want to tag you in
What you'll find: A link to download the app yourself (available for Apple and Android!), which shows you how to add old-timey filters to the smartphone pictures you take, as well as a few resources calling it the next big social media hit. From February. Time to get on board, don't you think?
4. What Is Yolo?
What you're probably looking for: Some sort of definition for the word you keep mishearing as "yodel"
What you'll find: Entries from Urban Dictionary and Internet Slang, explaining that YOLO stands for "you only live once," made famous by rapper Drake's "The Motto." It was also recently named the worst "word" of 2012 by this very publication.
3. What Is Gluten?
What you're probably looking for: An actual reason why everyone you know is suddenly refusing to eat sandwiches
What you'll find: A dictionary definition ("A substance present in cereal grains, esp. wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough"), as well as many nutritionists' explanations as to why we can do without it in our diets
2. What Is SOPA?
What you're probably looking for: An explanation as to why Wikipedia, Google, Reddit and others went dark on January 18
What you'll find: The definition for the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that was tabled in an attempt to keep foreign (non-US) websites from distributing pirated music, movies, etc., thus prompting those sites to retaliate
1. What Is Love?
What you're probably looking for: Figuring out whether that guy or gal is really into you — or for that matter, if you're really into them
What you'll find: The classic video from Haddaway (which will then be stuck in your head all day), as well as some articles with psychological explanations of the feeling that make love sound easy to define and feel — which we know it's anything but