I can't fix a toilet. Or a sink. I know how to write an essay, how to visualize a dataset, how to draw a diagram, how to make liquid olives ... but I can't fix anything around the house. My father-in-law was quite disappointed. So I search how to do everything around the house. To my relief, I am not alone …
You know that slightly sexist thing most handymen do? In front of a man and a woman, they'd look at the man to explain what happened to that thing they just fixed. I don't understand how they can't read my blank stare: I'm never following, my wife usually is. I need to see it step by step, with drawings and explanations, so it clicks. So I google it. And I look at pictures and diagrams. Call it professional bias. Anyway. As I said, I am not alone. We looked at what things we need the most help with around the house, from the simplest how-to-fit-a-bulb kind of fixes, to those fixes for which we know we need a professional, but our ego makes us take upon ourselves to at least try.
Each item is sized based on the number of searches about 'how to fix' it. The pink dashed line shows the world's median — just for reference.
Click if you want to search how to fix it
Walls, doors, and windows were the fixtures we searched the most in almost every country — I guess since they kind of are what makes a house a house. Here's how the world median picture looks like: (Ordered and sized from most to least searched)
So we discarded those three fixtures in search for some regional patterns. North Americans and East Asians need their toilets, people in former Soviet countries are fearless enough to attempt fixing their own washing machines, warmer climates can't live without a fridge — makes sense, and North and Eastern Europeans need help fixing their light bulbs.
On a sidenote — if I may. I know correlation doesn't imply causation—you know, like when two completely unrelated trends look very much alike but you absolutely cannot, should not say one is because of the other—, but I nonetheless wonder why searches of 'how to fix a toilet' and 'how to use chopsticks' follow such a similar pattern.
Unless … ... Nah, it can't be … ... Right? …
But 'how to fix things around the house' is only the tip of the iceberg. We looked at the top 100 'How Tos' worldwide to see what else we desperately need help with.
We have become so dependant on offloading, on relieving our brains from keeping certain basic, human information in storage, that we've forgotten how to do some fairly basic grown up tasks.
We really asked 'how to boil an egg'
And other cooking stuff that couldn't be more obvious really
I know some would say it ain't that obvious, but I told you already that I know how to make liquid olives — I love cooking, and anyone that's ever met me would attest to the extent of such love. So, yes, 'how to boil an egg' or 'how to make pizza dough' rank as obvious questions in my book.
'How to kiss', 'how to tell if a guy likes you'
And other love stuff — sweet, tender coming-of-age questions
A good chunk of the most-searched 'How Tos' sound as if they were asked by someone between 12 and 21 (30 you may even say). They show the terribly sweet, innocent, romantic ignorance of our teens.
Even 'how to write a check' or 'get a passport'
And other grown up stuff — ugly, boring coming-of-age questions
This smaller chunk of questions sounds as if they were asked by someone just a bit older than 21, when some start missing all the terribly sweet, innocent, romantic ignorance of their teens. (I didn't — apparently I was born a grown up.)
And 'how to tie a tie'!
Ok, fair enough. These were somehow more difficult queries
The catchall category actually contains some fun mini-categories. My favorite ones are the questions about math and thievery.
Oh, and 'how to lose weight'! Of course!
And some relevant and less relevant health-related questions
Although we dubbed them health searches, there is plenty of really … mostly beauty searches here. The ones that aren't strictly beauty, could be defined as New Year's resolutions.
We actually ask 'how to lose weight' every year
Around the same time each year, we ask these things again
Some of those questions are recurring themes of our search behaviour, here are some of the most interesting seasonal 'how to' questions.