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Illustration by Alex Cheung

The Year, Explained

2022: It can only get better from here. To start, here are some predictions from The Explainer Studio.

This study was commissioned and produced by The Explainer Studio by Vox Creative, with surveys from The Circus. Vox Media Editorial teams were consulted during the development of this report.

It’s 2022 — right? Time has indeed become a bit of a blur, but amidst what may have felt like a couple years of the same, a lot has changed. And there’s a lot to come, even if that feels a little bit scary (starts googling “what is flurona”).

But that blur means there’s a lot left to understand. We at the Explainer Studio are a curious bunch, and more than anything, we want to understand the world around us. It’s why we’re intent on creating work that enables brands to break through a sea of content, to give audiences useful context and move people from curiosity to understanding (like this Explainer about sleep, or this one about VR, or this one about ghost kitchens).

We wanted to know what to expect in 2022 (because we’ve had enough surprises the last two years). So we partnered with The Circus, an insight and data storytelling consultancy, to survey the online population and ask the questions we all want to know:

  • What will drive culture and trends in 2022?
  • What needs to be better understood?
  • What questions do you want answered?

We paired our learnings with the authoritative insights of Vox Media’s editorial networks to create our own trendcast. The following is what we at Explainer Studio learned, and what we believe will drive conversations in 2022.


From our editorial networks: What is the metaverse, and do I have to care? | Why the metaverse is more than Mark Zuckerberg’s dream | Why Niantic is a dark horse in the metaverse wars | Super-Apps Are Inevitable
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
From our editorial networks: In a post-pandemic world, video games connect everyone | Video game culture owes a lot to hidden object games | 7 games that pushed accessibility in 2021 | This company is making digital humans to serve the metaverse
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
From our editorial networks: Which Streaming Service Do You Actually Want? | ‘Pixel Pass’ is Google’s rumored response to Apple One
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
From our editorial networks: America’s mental health moment is finally here | Is therapy the best way to make the world happier? | The best $160 I ever spent: A session with a Black therapist | A Show of Strength | 5 Tools to Cope with Anxiety When Therapy Isn’t an Option
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022; The Vox Media Audience’s Resilient Outlook For 2021
From our editorial networks: What empty offices mean for America’s cities — and workers | The world as we know it is ending. Why are we still working? | 3 ways remote work could remake America
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
Source: The Vox Media Audience’s Resilient Outlook For 2022 | From our editorial networks: Covid-19 caused a recession. So why did the housing market boom? | On Moving Back Into my Childhood Bedroom | Two People, One Room, 16 Months: The Studio-Apartment Couples of the Pandemic
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
From our editorial networks and Insights & Innovation team: Why local escapes will be key to travel’s recovery | Hot beach summer is coming | Why Is Everyone in Greece Without Me? | Travel’s Grand Return
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
From our editorial networks: The Rules and Etiquette of Dining Out Has Changed (Again). Here’s How It’s Done. | The Status of Outdoor Dining Across the Country
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022 | From our editorial networks:The Viral TikTok Recipes Causing Food Shortages | The Hottest New (Ghost) Restaurant Is TikTok
From our editorial networks: Would You Pay $400 Million for a ‘Bikini Body’? | TikTok’s Favorite Skinfluencer Is Launching His Own Skincare Line | The D’Amelio Show kids are not alright
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
From our editorial networks: How college athletes finally earned the right to make money | New NIL deals for Texas athletes
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022
From our editorial networks: Climate Reparations | After Alarmism | How the climate movement can level up
Sources: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022; Unpacking environmental sustainability: How brands can take real action on climate change
Source: Vox Media Predictions Survey, The Year Explained 2022

Study Author: Edwin Wong

Methodology:

The Vox Media I&I team surveyed 3,000 consumers at end of 2021 with our partner, The Circus: an insight and data storytelling consultancy that specializes in original trend research, thought leadership, and strategic brand positioning rooted in a human-data centric approach.


How we explained 2021:

Food: The shift away from indoor dining led to an exploration of what was coming in its place
Why are ghost kitchens suddenly everywhere? A ghost explains

Gaming: Games became more than entertainment, and posed theoretical questions taken seriously by scientists
The science behind (and in front) of timeloops

Pharma: As vaccines dominated headlines, The Explainer Studio dove into the wide world of medical development
Why failure is critical to developing new medicines

Sex: We’ve missed human touch (and spent more time watching porn), but inequalities remain
Women are having fewer orgasms than men. But why?

Technology: Even futuristic tech needs to remember the human senses underpinning it
How does Virtual Reality tap into your sixth (or fifty third) sense?

Wellness: Staying home led to more sleep (the bed’s right there, after all), but how people sleep was top of mind
How understanding your sleep type can unlock your day’s full potential