Monday Musings 2 October: Musing on our search for meaning

What ARE we searching for? For now, scrap looking for the car keys or the answer to your existential crisis. We’re talking about those questions we pose to man’s other best friend – Google.

Heard of Google Trends? Not only is it a nifty research tool for the serious stuff (work and, like, life stuff), but it’s also a treasure trove of insights into our collective consciousness. Data artist Michelle Rial and data analyst Raphael Lee dove into the data to visualise what the world is searching for throughout the day and night.

Their visual essay “Searching the World” explores search queries across 50 countries during a single week in May 2021. It offers a glimpse into our shared human experience – our curiosity, mundane needs, and existential yearnings.

Their brief: Do anything you want with the daily search results.

This is what the pair came up with: “We’ll show you the topics people search for at the same times of day, across the world, and the journey we dream up for them. Because at the end of the day, we’re all searching for something (on our phones, in the dark).”

Check it out here >

So, what were we searching for?



It’s a mash-up between searches for yoga or searches for French toast.

Followed by horoscope, lottery, meditation and praying. (Guess where South Africa appears on this list? Turns out Mzansi is hoping for a lottery win.)

Then there are searches for the Bible and crossword instructions.

Blood sugar levels and coffee

Bank, hospital, laptop

Pancakes, investment (A lot of people in Ukraine search for pancakes in the morning)


Taxes and taco trucks

Noodles, pho (Vietnamese soup) and water park (ed’s note: no idea)

Vacation rental and paella (Dreaming of Spain perhaps?)

Takeout vs soup


Pizza, sushi, falafel, bruschetta and bar (right on time for dinner). Guess which of these 6 keywords South Africans are searching for? *Find the answer at the end of this section.

Panna cotta, mochi, dog (The first two fit under dessert, but dog?)

Exercise, hotel

Friday’s searches are equally fascinating:


Concert, child. (Wild Friday night)

Sadness, music

Back pain, diarrhoea, constipation

Insomnia, social media (makes perfect sense)

Then, we take a deep dive into breastfeeding and backpacking.

Followed by do we believe in: agnosticism, atheism or cryptocurrency?

Crying (seems SA cries a lot), pregnancy, pain

Alcoholic drink, friendship (mutually exclusive?)

Death and taxicab

And there we have it – a snapshot of the world’s search queries over 24 hours.

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As Rial notes, commenting on another visual (pictured above) that didn’t make it into the final essay: “We are not alone. In our feelings or our desire to know what’s for dinner.”

No matter our questions, someone, somewhere is searching the same.

While the topics vary, one truth remains: We search in hope of answers. Though alone in our questioning, collectively we are connected by the human experiences that drive our keystrokes.

In the end, these searches reveal our shared hopes, fears, and curiosities. The lottery, horoscopes, and late-night existential questioning… we are more similar than different in the search bar. And in that, there’s hope.

Happy searching!

PS: Wondering what it was that South Africans were searching for? Not the search bar, but the bar. Guessed it right? And we can’t say we’re surprised! Cheers, Mzansi!

Mindful Musings

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What the world was musing over this past week

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