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Here's What Happens When You Type 'Why Am' into Google in New York

Discussion in 'Community Off Topic' started by Eric "Herbie" Watson, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Do you know what happens when you live in New York and you type the words "why am" into Google? Before you can type the next word, Google's Autocomplete function helpfully offers to complete your thought. The first suggestion: "why am I so tired?" The second: "why am I always tired?" The Zeitgeist perfectly captured by Google.

    As the Belgian philosopher Pascal Chabot has put it, burnout is "civilization's disease."

    True, the results of an algorithm lack the nuance and intellectual heft of a philosophical diagnosis, and the results are regional, but Autocomplete provides a valuable window into the questions we're asking. As Google explains, "The search queries that you see as part of Autocomplete are a reflection of the search activity of users and the content of web pages." These predictions are powered by an algorithm "based on a number of objective factors, including how often past users have searched for a term."

    As Arwa Mahdawi wrote last year in The Guardian:

    Google has become something of the secular equivalent of a confessional box. Within the confines of a search bar you can ask questions or express opinions you would never admit to in public. Our most popular searches are, to some degree, an uncensored chronicle of what, as a society, we're thinking but not necessarily saying.

    While we as individuals are not always willing to talk about how tired we are, there's more evidence than ever that we've reached crisis levels. As one young woman told me during a Q&A session in San Francisco, "I don't remember the last time I was not tired."

    Bill Clinton, who used to famously get only five hours of sleep a night, admitted, "Every important mistake I've made in my life, I've made because I was too tired." And Hillary Clinton, after stepping down as Secretary of State, told Gail Collins that her goal was "to see whether I can get untired."

    Hillary Clinton, as my simple, half-completed Google search suggests, is not alone in wanting to know whether we can get untired.

    One other point on Google's page explaining Autocomplete stood out to me: "Just like the web, the search terms shown may seem silly, strange, or surprising."

    A few minutes spent typing random words (or celebrity names) into your Google search bar confirm this. But in the case of our tired civilization, there's nothing silly, strange or particularly surprising. Actually, the thought of so many people hunched over their laptops or iPhones, asking Google, "Why am I so tired?" or "Why am I always tired?" is really sad. And the answer is not going to be given to us by an algorithm. But we can start by shutting off our devices and getting some sleep.

    Please let me know what happens when you Google "why am" in your area of the country or the world.

    Author -- Arianna Huffington
  2. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Same for me in Northern California....
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    What tires me is technology and corporations. Too many times neither work efficiently.
    I even disconnect my telephone because of so many unwanted calls.
    Nothing electronic works, and getting it fixed is a nightmare.

    O well, it's not fatal. I try to laugh it all off and remind myself it's not fatal.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  4. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    I believe disconnecting is important. I disconnect from technology on purpose and I seem to feel energetic and renewed when I do.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have to most definitely lie down and disconnect from everything. I sometimes just lie on the couch and watch movies about hope and inspiration. At other times I'll meditate or read a book made of paper, sometimes the reading can get to much so I'll go to the gym and if that's not enough cause I might have went to the gym too much, well I sometimes find a homeless person and just talk to them -- I don't advise this less you feel safe, I do it in daylight with plenty of folks around. I find that talking to those less fortunate does something to me, like giving me more gratitude. I usually don't write down the things I'm thankful for since that is usually all in my mind and I'll often just go over those thoughts. Anything that can recharge my batteries and destress my whole mind body is what I go for. Sleep is great at night after the day is over but sometimes just a small 15-30 minute nap can do wonders to recharge.

    On the flip side, I remember before I learned that maintaining calmness in my body was important, I'd work for months without even stopping to think about a break. Even at night after I'd come home from work all I'd do is think of work till I'd doze off till the alarm clock would wake me to the morning coffee pot that would take to get me going again.

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