Google’s most-searched “how-to” questions capture all the magic and struggle of being human

Number two on the list: “How to kiss.”
Number two on the list: “How to kiss.”
Image: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
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My younger sister always gives me very good advice.

Once, for instance, she told me, “You need to stop asking Google questions about your life.” And she was right: Treating an Internet search engine as an advice column isn’t necessarily the best way to navigate life. When you ask Google, ”How to find love,” the top answer instructs, “Consider your appearance.” Ask, ”Should I write a book?” and the top answer is ”Why you should NOT write a book.” The internet can be very discouraging.

But it’s hard to quit my habit of using Google as a go-to, on-demand, 24/7 guide to life. And of course, I’m not alone. On Sept. 1, Google shared a list of the most-searched “how-to” questions around the world. It’s a moving portrait of all the beauty, bewilderment, and struggle of human existence. Consider the global top 10 list:

  1. how to tie a tie
  2. how to kiss
  3. how to get pregnant
  4. how to lose weight
  5. how to draw
  6. how to make money
  7. how to make pancakes
  8. how to write a cover letter
  9. how to make french toast
  10. how to lose belly fat

At first glance, it seems people are seeking Google’s help with concrete tasks. But don’t let the specificity fool you. These aren’t really questions about kisses, French toast, and belly fat. These are questions about how to give and receive love, and other weighty matters. I took the opportunity to translate:

Google certainly has solid, step-by-step replies for many of these questions. But as a seasoned “Ask Google” professional, I thought I’d take a shot at answering them, too.