“Am I in bed?”: Why we ask unanswerable questions to Google

What question would you like answered by Google? If we can believe a study by the British television channel ‘Dave’. We would prefer to get answers to what the winning lotto numbers of tomorrow are going to be. Or alien real existence and what happens to you when you die.

The top 25 questions can be divided into four categories: conspiracies (Who killed JFK? Did Donald Trump really do the elections?), Desires for success (Will I ever be rich? What are the winning numbers of the lotto?), fears (Do people like me? Am I in bed?) and curiosities (What is the meaning of life? Is there really a god?).

No, Google is no longer a regular search engine. Nowadays oracle, fortune-teller, detective, therapist and priest are also part of the website’s tasks. Even though the power of Google seems almighty, the ability to fulfil our deepest desires is not always working well. But the fact that we want those things from a website reveals a lot about how we work.

Firstly, it shows that no matter how quickly the world changes, people remain in their curiosity. The Buddhists had a name for it, life is ‘dukkha’ (unsatisfactory). And as long as we are guided by it, we will not be happy. We want to be more beautiful, richer and more successful. In addition, we are always looking for a pattern. And explanation that explains why we are so fascinated by the unknown or things that are difficult to explain. That has always been the case and will probably always stay that way.

Real listening ear

What has changed is how we address these questions. We are now so common that the answer to a question is only a few clicks away from us. The answer to even big problems or questions is therefore also found with the search engine. But Google cannot give us what we really need: time and other people. For our daily frustrations, a real listening ear, not the virtual version, is often the best medicine.

The Guardian
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