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The Keyword


2022: The year we’re thinking about what really matters to us

An image of the Google search bar but with characters working around it, like builders under the sign

“The only way to truly educate ourselves is to ask questions. Questions that sometimes aren’t comfortable,” says Marcus Rashford, a hero to so many, and the person who spearheads our #ItsOktoAsk campaign here in the UK.

The campaign encourages us to be unafraid to ask the questions closest to our hearts. The questions that can help us to better understand one another and bring us closer together. Post pandemic, many have been taking stock of what’s important, re-evaluating relationships and considering career changes. We partnered with YouGov to find out more about what people were seeking to understand, but were hesitant to ask friends and family. 

The search data revealed some fascinating results:

  • 64% of UK adults say being able to ask questions without judgment makes it easier to ask a search engine like Google first, specifically on questions that define societal norms.
  • 50% of UK adults say the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns led them to re-evaluate friendships, relationships, family and work.

Friendships – calling time and setting boundaries

Both YouGov and Google Search Trends data shows that we’re thinking carefully about who we want to spend time with, with YouGov research indicating that 44% of UK adults are actively seeking new friendships, 46% want to end negative or non-useful friendships and 42% are looking to set more boundaries around their time.

Many of us are evaluating our networks, with one in 10 UK adults turning to Google to ask “How to make a more ethnically or gender diverse friendship group'' according to YouGov, and the same number questioning the gender of their friends, for example whether it’s “OK to have only male or female friends.”

Tellingly, we see Google trending searches over the last year including questions such as, “How can I make friends?” and “Is it normal to not have any friends?”

Romance and relationships

With IRL dating back on the cards, many UK adults are re-circling previous debates such as who pays the bill, which was a breakout search over the last year. Other trending searches were, “Is it OK to date two guys at the same time?” alongside, “Is it normal to want an open relationship?”

For 31% of those surveyed aged 45-54 looking for a fresh start after a relationship, correlating Google searches for “Should I split up with my partner?” and “When should I date again after a breakup?” saw a spike at the beginning of the year.

Many in relationships are reconsidering what that means, with searches like, “How to tell my boyfriend I’m polyamorous” and “How to meet polyamorous couples” spiking over the last year.

Other trending questions over the last two years using Google Search reveal our very human vulnerabilities:

  • “Is it OK to be single?”
  • “How long after a date should I text?”
  • “Is it OK to have sex on a first date?”
  • “Is it OK for woman to be taller than man?”
  • “Is it OK to split the bill on a date?”

Parenting – whether to and how to

People are questioning what parenthood looks like as we enter 2022, with a surge in searches for “How do you know if you want children?” and “Is it OK to not want children?” over the past year.

We are also turning to Google Search for parenting advice. Questions that have spiked over the last year show it’s been a preoccupation, and unsurprisingly given the circumstances for many parents. They included:

  • “How to be the best dad”
  • “How to be the best mum”
  • “How to balance being a mum and working”
  • “How to work full time and be a single mum”
  • “I always doubt my parenting abilities”
  • “How does society affect child rearing?”

Work life shake ups

Google Trends shows that 23% of searches indicate that many people want to make big lifestyle changes when it comes to their work-life balance. Searches spiked around terms such as “How to make extra money from home” and “Flexible work from home jobs.”

Many are also looking into creative vocations, with increases in searches over the last year including:

  • “Film director courses”
  • “Interior design apprenticeship”
  • “DJing course”
  • “Sign language courses”
  • Jewellery making course UK”

More than ever before, women are looking to support each other in the workplace too, with Google Search interest in female mentorship increasing by 130% in the past 12 months in the UK — more than any other European country during this time. Peer mentoring for women was also on the rise, spiking by 250% in the UK in the past 12 months compared to the previous year. We’ve reason to be proud here.

What will you be searching for to improve your conversations and understanding about life and relationships?

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