Trending Google Searches - 2010s

©Simon, Pixabay

Today, my partner sent me this video depicting the ‘Top Trending Google Searches in every US state throughout the 2010s’. Give it a watch. Tell me what you notice.

My first thought after carefully watching the full eleven-minute video was: “this is why we still have violence against women.”

I know that sounds drastic, but here’s why that thought immediately popped into my head: Of all the trending search terms flickering across that colourful map, not ONCE did ‘#MeToo’ pop up. Several offenders outed by #MeToo make it on the map, but the MeToo hashtag, the names of the women who started & popularized the hashtag, and the women who shared their stories of assault never once appear. I even checked the popularity of the #MeToo search term. Google Trends (the data source from which this map was created) indicates #MeToo was most searched between October 15-21, 2017. Yet, when I look at those dates in the video, it’s nowhere to be seen.

How can this be??? In my social bubble, #MeToo was everywhere. It was inescapable (for good reason!). Perhaps #MeToo didn’t become a top search term because people already knew what it was, so they didn’t need to Google it to find out more. Perhaps they learned about the movement by searching the names of the offenders. Or perhaps, on a sadder note, not enough people wanted to find out more. Overall though, it seems we are failing to reach critical mass in terms of awareness of violence against women.

Billie Eilish was a frequent top search term in 2019 © Lars Crommelinck Photography

One thing I DID notice was the prevalence of celebrities, movies, and video games as top search terms, which, to me, is an indicator of how much media (news and entertainment) influences us. This finding isn’t really a surprise, but what it does make me ponder is how the anti-violence movement might be able to learn from marketing campaigns around top-trending media (I’m specifically thinking about films, TV shows, videos games, and music). In interviews with some of the smallest steps subjects, Canada’s seatbelt, and non-smoking campaigns were mentioned as examples of successful societal change campaigns we could look to within the anti-violence sector. 

On a positive note, #BlackLivesMatter successfully made it onto the map. While there are many factors that influenced this sudden widespread awareness of the movement, there is no doubt that years of dedication and persistence by many activists, allies, and advocates was part of it. The first time the Black Lives Matter hashtag was used was back in July 2013, which demonstrates how long it can take for social movements to gain significant traction (if they ever do at all).  

What do you think about the map? Is there any way we could improve awareness of violence against women? What about ways to change societal attitudes towards violence against women? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Nicole Bedford