2302: 2020 Google Trends
|2020 Google Trends|
Title text: As the 'exotic animals in homemade aprons hosting baking shows' YouTube craze reached its peak in March 2020, Andrew Cuomo announced he was replacing the Statue of Liberty with a bronze pangolin in a chef's hat.
Randall wants to go back in time to show a 2019 person a Google Trends graph, showing massive spikes in a group of search terms, all around the same time. Some of the terms (flour, webcam, sewing machine) had fairly steady popularity, then rapidly jumped higher. Others (pangolin, Andrew Cuomo) were barely searched for at all until they suddenly became items of intense interest. The joke is that, without context, it would be impossible to guess what caused these simultaneous spikes, and the pattern would seem completely random. A person might guess that there was a single event that drove all of these searches, but it would be difficult to speculate what that might be.
All of these trends are presumably due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Searches for "sewing machine" are likely driven by people trying to make their own cloth face masks, to help contain the spread of the virus, due to an ongoing shortage of professionally made masks. (Ironically, a common search is "how to make mask without sewing machine", so this may be partially driven by a lack of machines).
- Searches for "Webcam" are likely driven by a massive increase in virtual meetings and video conferencing, as people increasingly work from home and pursue other social distancing strategies.
- "Andrew Cuomo" was the governor of New York, the state hit hardest by the pandemic in the United States at the time of this comic's publication. He accrued lots of media attention for his (initially praised, but now rather controversial) response to COVID-19. Governor Cuomo (like most state governors) wasn't subject to much national attention before the epidemic, but became something of a household name during the crisis.
- Searches for "flour" are likely caused by an increase in baking due to people staying at home. This is also referred to in 2296: Sourdough Starter. The searches may be driven by people looking for recipes and baking tips, and it may also be driven by people trying to find flour in the face of local shortages. The little lump at the end of November and December can probably be attributed to people baking for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- A "pangolin" is a mammal found in Africa and Asia. Pangolins are traditionally little known outside of their natural habitats, with many people in other countries not even aware of their existence (hence the almost total absence of searches at the beginning of the chart). This changed, when it was speculated that SARS-CoV-2 possibly crossed over to humans from wild animals sold in wet markets in Wuhan, China, and pangolins are considered to be one of the most likely sources. This has given the previously obscure creatures a fairly morbid form of global fame and attention.
The title text is a possible "guess" by the 2019 person for these search terms having an increase together: a YouTube craze of exotic animals (which includes pangolins) in homemade aprons (possibly made with the help of sewing machines) hosting baking shows which leads to a response by New York governor Andrew Cuomo. This is not correct.
A recent prior comic that touches on the past's possible views on the present situation from limited information was 2280: 2010 and 2020. In that case, the relative costs of cryptocurrency and hygiene supplies was considered unremarkable by a 2010 person because (unbeknownst to him) the price of both had skyrocketed.
- [A line chart plotting the popularity of various search terms from May 2019 through April 2020: sewing machine (blue line), webcam (red), Andrew Cuomo (yellow), flour (green), and pangolin (purple). The yellow line starts at the bottom of the chart and rises about halfway up at the end of March 2020 before decaying to about 20% by the end of April. The purple line starts at the bottom of the chart and has a small lump in February 2020 and a slightly bigger lump in March 2020 before trending back down. The blue line starts at about 10% up the chart and then spikes up to 50% at the beginning of April before decaying to 40% at the end of April. The red line starts at about 20% up the chart, has a small lump in September 2019, and then jumps up to 40% in March 2020 before trending back down. The green line starts at about 30% up the chart, has a small lump in December 2019, and then spikes up to the top of the chart at the end of March 2020.]
- [Caption below comic:]
- I want to show someone from 2019 this Google Trends graph and watch them try to guess what happened in 2020.
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