a closer look @ googling

I’ve been wanting to speak on this topic for awhile. It’s been tucked away in an email draft with the subject: Things I Need To Write About #writerproblems. Some of these ideas never see the light of day/make it through my fingers, though most are good. There are without a doubt terrible ideas I’ve had for pieces that should never come into fruition. Still, I like to keep a record of them if not for making myself feel better that I tried but simply for my own personal amusement over their ridiculousness. #writerproblems.

I’ve written in previous posts about how technology has changed so many things for us–culturally, socially, emotionally/mentally/physically/, the list goes on. It has it’s enormously meaningful impact on the world  but comes with dangerous side effects and drawbacks we’re only now starting to understand and accept.

I’m terribly curious by nature and also extremely anxious/strategic (part of the reason it’s taking me so long to get to this idea #overthinkerproblems). It works both for and against me, this very special trait of mine. I breeze through research, knowing the right questions to ask to get the information I need/don’t (good for journalism). I talk to strangers, socialize often and keep chugging along.

Too often I succumb to the darker side of my anxiety/curiosity and I google the shit out of everything. When I came home from buying a new line of products from Clarins (and after evaluating the products in-store and online), I came home to google, “benefits of X product.” I even remember thinking to myself, ‘isn’t this the strangest behavior? Didn’t I just spend nearly an hour in the mall deciding which products I liked, even got a mini-facial in the process to test said products out? Why do I still need to check this out online?’ It was the first time I really took notice of what I was doing. And last month,  I started including more vitamins and supplements in my diet. Most of them need to be taken after a meal. I chose them based on what my multi-vitamins were lacking plus whichever I found would help with muscle/bone strength. Even though I already purchased the vitamins and devised a plan for how I’d space them out throughout the week,  I came back to my Macbook only to read about the benefits of each one of those pills.

What are we doing to ourselves? Have we become so dependent on technology for validation that we stop using our brains? I’ve become addicted to reading about the benefits of the choices I make, mainly when it comes to my health or body. I’m less concerned somehow about the risks but I pore over the good stuff–how drinking enough water can completely revolutionize my skin, what a good nights sleep can do for your body and mind, the goodness that comes from a dedicated exercise regimen, how thoughts can positively or negatively impact your behavior and body, and so many other meaningless searches. ALL information I’m aware exists and will continue doing regardless of those benefits yet continue down the bottomless pit of interneting away.

DISCLAIMER: This isn’t just because I have too much time on my hands.  On days when I’m completely busy with writing, researching, scouring the internet for editors contact information, or just living in India (which requires lots of other types  of busy work) I still find myself seeking this information. I had to ask myself why is it that I keep coming back to this same, silly activity? Is it because I’ve written those listicles or articles on the benefits of x thing? Or, worse yet, do I actually care about those benefits?

After all the products have been purchased, the water drunk, the sleep slept, the pills swallowed, the body remains kind of a mystery and no one knows entirely what’s going on inside of it. I suppose its my own fascination with the mysteries of the body that keep me googling but it’s also my inherent desire to be validated–to know that I’m doing something ‘good’ for myself, that I’m treating my body the best I can and heading in the right direction. Its my own congratulatory pat on my back. As we get older there isn’t always someone around to say, ‘good job’ or ‘right on’ or whatever encouraging words people offer one another. We need to believe on our own accord that the choices we are making ARE for our betterment. We validate ourselves and keep moving forward, no matter what Google says.

Googling out our anxieties and fears is the modern version of Abracadabra. We instantly get answers to whatever thoughts/concerns/questions/fears/frustrations/elations we feel, anything we feel! Magic happens in front of our very eyes and before we know it, we’ve got our fix. We instantly feel better or worse, satisfied or left wanting more.

I’ve had to consciously stop myself from googling the benefits of anything these days. Live and let live, I say. I can’t remember googling to validate before the internet existed. It only started about 1-2 years ago. I wouldn’t sum it up to one particular reason but I do believe Google searching has made us so dependent that we forget we already possess a treasure trove of knowledge in our heads. We don’t need the internet to tell us things we already know but we like that it does. And when we start to need it in order to function, we’ve already become addicts.

I remember a book from my childhood (pre-internet) that lived in the study of our house. It was called, “The Big Book of Tell Me Why.” I can remember feeling like I was witnessing something special when I turned its thin pages, being privy to information others didn’t have, gaining knowledge to things no one knew. Learning something new felt exciting and that book held a power over me, before Ask Jeeves or Google ever existed.

Today I caught myself googling the benefits of a new protein powder I’ve been taking for muscle growth. I knew I’d be taking the supplement even if I read something suspicious (perhaps I’m also looking for reasons to not partake in whatever activity or product I’m searching about) yet I still googled away. I guess I’ve reached the point of no return–I’m officially an information junkie, strictly speaking when it come to google searching about the body. Is there internet rehab ™? Someone make that happen. And also credit it to me. Help!

The Blame Game and other concerns

Less than a week before I’m back in the States.

This morning Sapna got all teary-eyed as I was preparing my carry-on bag for Monday’s departure. She asked, “You will call me, right?” I told her I would. She says she never took care of ‘such an American girl like me’ before and will think of me often. I’ve been in this situation before, (circa 2008-Anita, Dr Marda, 2009-Jai Ram, 2010-Dayanda Ashram…the list goes on). Everyone involved feels some level of sadness and within a week, will be back to his/her regular schedule. It happens. Time and again. The attachment is natural; we are around one another every day for months, until one day we’re not. The memories fade. Sometimes people’s feelings get hurt and we move on with our lives.

I nod my head assuring Sapna that we will be in touch, even though inside I know it’s a lie. This morning I asked if I could take a picture of her so I could remember her. She happily agreed and I quickly snapped a pic on my iPhone. So check out Sapna as my picture for the day. Even if we never talk again, I’ll remember this.

At the clinic there is a young female therapist that has been working with me since December. She’s sweet and naive. I found her to be good company and we would chit chat in between sessions; topics ranged from my physical progress to the best places in Bombay to shop. As my time at the clinic became increasingly difficult to tolerate and an unhealthy place, I decided to leave for good. I sat down with the doctor’s assistants and gave my reasoning. I said as easily as I made the decision to come, I decided it was time to leave. They listened, argued, listening some more and finally we shook hands. The young physical therapist expressed how hurt she was by my decision (‘I thought we were friends! I never thought you would do this to me!’) but I knew–and she did too–it was a long time coming. The clinic knew my issues with them from Day 1. I adjusted, accepting the notion that, ‘This is India, deal with it,’ which was so often thrown my way during tough times. That place was no longer for me for so many reasons. Part of me felt guilty for the way everything has ended, but that was short-lived. I spoke my truth and if I may say so myself, exited gracefully. I was proud of the way I handled the situation, in a clear almost peaceful manner. Although still 26 yrs for another month, I felt the maturity in that moment. 27 came sooner than expected! I did not blame them nor myself for not trying hard enough.

In India–or let me rephrase that, at THIS clinic in India– patients’ rights don’t count for much. I’m aware of my rights as a patient whether in India or the US. Once that settled in, I knew I had tolerated too much. To BLAME INDIA is NOT a solution. It is careless. ‘Turn a blind eye and accept this,’– is exactly what I was told when I first arrived. There were TONS of solutions to the clinics on-going problems. But the way in which they chose to deal with them was to not. The staff lives in fear of ‘Sir’, the main doctor who runs the joint. I can appreciate hating/fearing/respecting your boss, but this was on another level. The clinic’s weakness are due in part to ‘Sirs’ protocol. I eventually came to understand this was what I took issue with, prompting my decision to discontinue therapy there.

The clinic will be moving in April– a brand-spanking, shiny, new, spacious place completely devoted to rehabilitation. It will no longer handle all of its operations (business and otherwise) in an unventilated basement like it does now. I congratulated the doctor and offered him a challenge for the new center: consider your patient’s decency, always. The doctor said nothing. His assistant agreed she would and we said goodbye.