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I'm 85 and tired about worrying about my virginity
April 27, 2013 1:05 AM   Subscribe

Life worries as expressed by Google Suggest.
posted by twoleftfeet (74 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm 37 and.... don't understand people who use google with sentences instead of key words.
posted by adamt at 1:24 AM on April 27, 2013 [23 favorites]


I just read a recent article by Baker and Potts called "Why do white people have thin lips?" It looks at stereotypes through Google autocomplete (i.e., "why do [white | black | Jewish | gay | women | men ...]" and raises the question of Google's role in perpetuating those stereotypes. This video is the age-related version of that. It's all super fascinating to me.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:27 AM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


The internet is a cursed portrait that shows us ourselves as we are rather than as we want to imagine we are.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:35 AM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Right now I'm getting "I'm 33... for a moment." Which I think is great.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:38 AM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


The internet is a cursed portrait that shows us ourselves as we are rather than as we want to imagine we are.

That portrait in the attic may be cursed and ugly, but our social networking profiles will forever remain glamorous and surprisingly youthful.
posted by jaduncan at 1:47 AM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Maybe when the Rapture comes, God will make our forms at the Resurrection what we put in our social networking profiles.
posted by XMLicious at 2:04 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


How many 10-year-olds have to type in that query for google to bounce it to the top of their suggested list?

It is also interesting that most of the suggestions are gender-neutral or seem to have originated from girls/women. I don't think we can tell from the screen capture whether this person is logged into google, which (maybe?) might make a difference in suggestions? I know locale does, even if you're not logged in.
posted by maxwelton at 2:07 AM on April 27, 2013


How many 10-year-olds have to type in that query for google to bounce it to the top of their suggested list?

I think it's possible that Google's algorithm does not simply show you what other people type. Perhaps it matches sentences of the form "I am [age] and..." to certain age-related search terms like 'pregnant' and 'virgin'.

Just a thought.
posted by deticxe at 2:18 AM on April 27, 2013


It seems that Google’s search is featuring Yahoo answers very heavily here.
Yahoo Answers is a place I would never choose to go for Answers to any question, it's like AskMeFi without the intelligent experienced interesting people.
So I tried the same with search on AskMeFi, below are the first results for "I'm XX and...".

I'm 11 and... How to feel good about my financial independence?

I'm 12 and... I think i need to talk to my boyfriend about his drinking - help me

I'm 18 and... I'm thinking of breaking up with you because you're depressed. Yes, I am just that awful.

I'm 19 and... How to behave around your ex

I'm 20 and... How do I learn to Grab This Day by the Neck and Kiss it?

I'm 21 and... i am a real person

I'm 45 and... explain finding and getting a job like Im a 5 year old.

I'm 85 and... Feeling lost in my life. What do I do? *Que the snowflake*

Clear scientific evidence right there.
posted by Dr Ew at 2:32 AM on April 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


This actually made me LOL.
posted by kinnakeet at 2:43 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm 48 and pregnant.
I'm 48 and missing my period.
I'm 48 and my girlfriend is 8.
I'm 48 and I'm still feeling good.


One of these things is not like the others.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:55 AM on April 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


I don't think these pull from what people actually search at all - Google is just pulling out common sequences of words from their search results, and since Yahoo! Answers for some reason has a high search rank and often employs the same sentence structure ("I'm XX and...") it's having a strong influence on the results.

Furthermore, if you look at the actual results once the ages get past about 35, you'll notice something weird happening - there's a reddit thread that's "I'm 35 and never had a girlfriend" that pops up for "I'm 70", so Google appears to be doing its magic where it treats different words interchangably if it assumes they're "close enough" - can't get an example right now, but sometimes you can get it to bold words in results that aren't even in your query. (It's not on main Google, but in Books I've seen it do this for "Cat" when I search for "Feline".)
posted by 23 at 3:17 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm 50 and I kick?
posted by Gordafarin at 3:23 AM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Could you narrow this down so as to get results from specific countries, e.g. google.co.uk?
posted by epo at 3:24 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm 48 and my girlfriend is 8... months pregnant.

Yes, I had to check that one myself.
posted by fontor at 3:27 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ah.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:34 AM on April 27, 2013


Could be worse.
posted by empath at 3:50 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Started out funny, and ended on a bit of a dark, existential note. Good find. Thanks for posting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:00 AM on April 27, 2013


Maybe when the Rapture comes, God will make our forms at the Resurrection what we put in our social networking profiles.

I suspect that when the Rapture comes, God will make us fill out a bunch of forms.

What did you do in your life? ________________
Did you ever have carnal knowledge? __________
How about other types of knowledge? ___________
Did you ever do the things that those people do? ________

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that there will be an incredible bureaucracy at the Pearly Gates, with many purgatorial delays, due to the sudden influx of the Raptured.

Meanwhile, in Hell, Satan will be waiving all comers through quickly.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:18 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


But that's a topic for a different thread.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:27 AM on April 27, 2013


Could you narrow this down so as to get results from specific countries, e.g. google.co.uk?

Germany: http://www.google.de/
France: http://www.google.fr/
Canada: http://www.google.ca/
etc

though of course don't forget to phrase the question in the site's language.
posted by crapmatic at 4:55 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm getting "I'm 43 and I did a 900 today". Because I am apparently the same age as Tony Hawk, whose Twitter boasts are really Googleable.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:04 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm 49 and I'm getting "pregnant," "my period is late," and "missed my period," which leaves me with a distinct lack of male-oriented relevancy and wondering how many geriatric fertile women are really out there.

I suspect the "I'm age and..." results may skewed toward female concerns because women are more likely to just type a sentence into the search box than to work out an optimized search term. Not because stereotypes or anything, but that's what my wife does.
posted by localroger at 5:20 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm 37 and.... don't understand people who use google with sentences instead of key words.

Because a web forum where someone asks your exact question is sometimes full of good answers, whereas a page with all the "right" keywords has a good chance of being useless.
posted by monkeymadness at 5:30 AM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


There are more people than we think out there who simply never manage to get laid.
posted by Decani at 5:30 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm one of those, Decani ;)
posted by Lizard at 5:41 AM on April 27, 2013


(not really.)
posted by Lizard at 5:48 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm 49 and I'm getting "pregnant," "my period is late," and "missed my period," which leaves me with a distinct lack of male-oriented relevancy and wondering how many geriatric fertile women are really out there.

I'm 44 and male and quite disturbed that the word "geriatric" is being used in the same sentence as the age "49".
posted by Slothrup at 6:04 AM on April 27, 2013 [27 favorites]


If we're investing this amusing little stunt with any sort of actual meaning, it may be that we've come to think of Google a little too highly. If you watch the actual instant search results, rather than the suggestions, it seems clear that Google is in most cases sort of struggling to find the relevancy of a phrase like "I'm NN and." Google is a huge, fast, very clever machine, but it's still just a machine.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:08 AM on April 27, 2013


How many 10-year-olds have to type in that query for google to bounce it to the top of their suggested list?

Kids hit puberty earlier and earlier. A 10 or 11 year-old getting their period isn't uncommon. Heck, my wife of 30+ years got hers when she was 11, and that was back in the 60's.

If you add to that the reality that many kids are simply uneducated about the changes their bodies are going to undergo, and a very real ignorance of how sex and pregnancy works, it's not hard to imagine a 10-year-old getting her first period and her mind immediately going to "I'm pregnant". I know it sounds ridiculous to our educated minds, but a huge chunk of the population lives in a relative bubble of imposed ignorance when it comes to matters of sex and their bodies.

And, sadly, there really are extreme cases where a 10-year-old does become pregnant. I'll let you dwell on how that happens...and weep.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:10 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm 37 and.... don't understand people who use google with sentences instead of key words.

If the thing you're looking for is other people's experiences with the same problem (like pregnancy) and also know that the results that you're looking for are probably going to have variations of those questions on them, then why wouldn't you? How would you personally construct a search for being 12 and being pregnant?

People always get all high and mighty about natural language searchers, but it's a perfectly legitimate search strategy if for no other reason than because a lot of people use it and that's naturally how the information they're looking for ends up being structured.

Maybe the real question is 'why don't our search engines support natural language searches instead of totally abstract keyword searches?'
posted by codacorolla at 6:18 AM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I had to turn that off. I can't use google at all if it's turned on; I wrote this back in late 2009 and the situation has only gotten worse.
It’s useful for a lot of people, I’m sure, but I’ve finally had to turn it off. About three times a week I get ambushed when I make the mistake of putting some harmlessly generic phrase at the beginning of my search and Google puts ten of the likeliest continuations of that phrase at the end of it.

This might not be the most common form of brain damage in the world, but when that hits me in the eyes my brain assumes that I’m looking at an actual narrative, a paint-by-the-numbers outline of someone’s story. And then my stupid brain starts to colour it in.

“Should I”, space.

Stay or should I go. Call him. Break up with him. Shave my pubic hair. Get bangs. Upgrade to Windows 7. Get a divorce. Pop a blister. Break up with my boyfriend. Suddenly I am reading the story of some sad, slightly nerdy and unhappily married girl on the verge of doing something terribly self-destructive.

All I wanted to know was whether or not I should delete some machine from active directory before rebuilding it, and now I have a brain full of that. The worst part is that I’m 100% sure that person is real. She’s somewhere in the world right now trying to decide whether to upgrade her OS or slit her wrists, and all I want is to go back to not thinking about her. Whatever happens next, I’ll never know.

But maybe, whispers brain, maybe we can check.

“Did she”, space.

Mention my name? Die? Cheat on me? Mention my name, just in passing?

I admit that I might be uniquely broken this way but honestly, brain, shut up.
It's really horrible.
posted by mhoye at 6:35 AM on April 27, 2013 [32 favorites]


My doctor is drunk and throwing up.
Why do people smell of fish.
Why does sex hurt my arm when I sneeze.
I can't poop when the cat can't.

Am I doing this right?
posted by popcassady at 6:56 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wonder if they ever figured out why my parakeet won't eat my diarrhea.
posted by dr_dank at 7:01 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yahoo! Answers

Yahoo Answers is one of the most accurately named things on the Internet. Except for the exclamation point.
posted by srboisvert at 7:05 AM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm 32 flavors and then some.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:09 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Maybe the real question is 'why don't our search engines support natural language searches instead of totally abstract keyword searches?'"

That's a good question. I remember when this was a thing. I have a dim memory of some kind of database program with a NLP interface in the 90s — it was a big deal, everyone was all wow this is going to change how people use computers.

And NLP has come a long way since then. I was going to write that if anyone could do it well, it'd be Google. And that's true for a number of reasons, but my guess is that you couldn't pre-parse a significant portion of all queries and so live parsing them would be a big increase in back-end workload. But what the hell do I know about this? Not much.

Anyway, your point is right on target: that we're encouraged to use keyword searches is another example of people being expected to use computers on the computer's terms and not the way they would naturally. I might be right that it's non-trivial for a number of reasons to implement NLP of search queries at Google but, even so, the problem has become far, far more tractable than it once was. It used to be science fiction, now it's not really that big of a deal.

And I think it matters because I've realized, although it took me a while, that my skill at crafting Google queries is quite arcane relative to how the average person uses Google. It really doesn't make sense to expect people to even know about quoting, much less the other stuff.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:18 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you add to that the reality that many kids are simply uneducated about the changes their bodies are going to undergo, and a very real ignorance of how sex and pregnancy works, it's not hard to imagine a 10-year-old getting her first period and her mind immediately going to "I'm pregnant".

I was one of the first in my class to get my period. I wasn't exceptionally young, but I was on the older side for my class and so getting it even a bit early put me before the sex ed class. I had no idea what was going on. I didn't think I was pregnant, but I definitely thought there was something seriously wrong. It was a terrifying experience. Had Google been around then, I'm certain I'd have typed in a lot of "I'm bleeding to death" sorts of queries. For those with slightly more sexual/reproductive knowledge than I had, I can easily see how they could think they were pregnant. My experience is why I get extremely angry when I hear folks complaining about sex ed in schools. Sex ed is so very much more than talking about birth control...
posted by imbri at 7:28 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


"I'm 50 and I kick" is likely a reference to Sally O'Malley.
posted by pasici at 7:30 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm 44 and male and quite disturbed that the word "geriatric" is being used in the same sentence as the age "49".

When the biological imperative to buy some driving gloves and a Porsche hits you, you'll understand.

(Male menopause hits some guys late. My father in law just bought his first sports car at the age of 85.)
posted by localroger at 7:32 AM on April 27, 2013


There are more people than we think out there who simply never manage to get laid.

According to Google, you're either a virgin or pregnant.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:34 AM on April 27, 2013


According to Google, you're either a virgin or pregnant.

So in the googleverse men must all be virgins since we can't get pregnant, leading to the question of how the pregnant women got that way...
posted by localroger at 7:38 AM on April 27, 2013


So in the googleverse men must all be virgins since we can't get pregnant,

I have both a Billy Crystal and an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that refutes that claim.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:49 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm 85 and tired about worrying about my virginity

Actually the 85 yo was not worried about virginity. Presumably it was a happy ending.
posted by stbalbach at 8:25 AM on April 27, 2013


though of course don't forget to phrase the question in the site's language.

google.bf: J'ai 34 ans et … j'ai rate [sic] ma vie.
posted by solotoro at 8:29 AM on April 27, 2013


I am 71 and was completely skipped over--apparently nothing happens between 70 and 80. There is a bit of sad truth in this, as I am discovering. Old is just old. But I feel really good and I am not worried about being a virgin, pregnant or old. Just out of curiosity I googled " I am 71..". The only question I got was "I am 71 can I get a mortgage" The answer is yes. But I do not have one or need one.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I found that somewhat depressing.
posted by arcticseal at 8:57 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm 31 and single
I'm 31 and alone
I'm 31 can I join the army?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:42 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think these pull from what people actually search at all [...].

I'm not sure about that, actually.

A while back on tumblr there was a post going around that showed the really sexist results of google's autocomplete, which is apparently now a Gawker post that has some of the same information, but lacks the 'men are' and 'men should' parts of it that I can't remember.

Some examples:
Women are...
crazy
smarter than men
better than men
not funny
crazy men are stupid

Women should...
not wear makeup
stay at home
be silent in church
not be in combat
be silent bible verse
have no rights
not preach
cover their heads
not vote

So I reblogged that post after seeing what my google autocompletes were, which were largely the same as these examples. But then someone took issue with the post (or to be honest just called it fake), because his autocompletes weren't giving him quite the same thing.

I found a site that explains how google autocomplete does what it does, however correct it may be. Basically, autocompletes are based on real questions that people have asked before and ranked by popularity. However, the suggestions you get can vary by region (and language, though that seems obvious to me). It will also add in searches that you have made before, as you may be more likely to want that information. Searches that have been hitting a recent spike in popularity will be moved to the top of the list. But, google can remove certain suggestions if it's hatespeech against a protected group (race sex etc.).

Anyway. When I try typing 'men should' and 'women should' and all of those things into the search bar now I get much different things than I did 5ish months ago. So maybe the world is becoming a better place?
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:43 AM on April 27, 2013


It's the 80s and I'm down with the ladies
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:14 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


People who aren't sexist don't type "women are" or "women should" into Google.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:56 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm 29 and:

never had a girlfriend
have no friends
single
depressed
want a baby
still live at home
still single
never had a boyfriend
a virgin
unemployed

Man, nobody uses Google to brag about what's good.
posted by Peevish at 11:05 AM on April 27, 2013


I am almost 54 and:

drunk
depressed
devoid of all hope
bitter and twisted
a highly engaging and amusing fellow who will enliven any party or social gathering
posted by Decani at 11:13 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, nobody uses Google to brag about what's good.

It's funny how the internet is like a funhouse mirror for people's lives, isn't it? Facebook and social media are full of nothing but other people having great lives, and this is like the opposite of that.
posted by bookman117 at 11:14 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Heh. Can you imagine if one day everybody's search terms were swapped with their status updates?

Monday would be awkward.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:23 AM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


People who aren't sexist don't type "women are" or "women should" into Google.

To the larger point, and again I wish I could find the tumblr post, you could easily get positive responses to 'women are' and 'women should' but the balance between the sexes is off. For example, 'women are amazing' or 'women should do what they want' or etc., but you more typically get 'women shouldn't be able to join the army' and that sort of thing. But when you compare the 'men should' and 'men are' against the 'women should' and 'women are', the men get a far greater number of positive autocompletes than the women.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 11:55 AM on April 27, 2013


from I'm 35 and want to be pregnant to I'm 35 and pregnant
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 12:23 PM on April 27, 2013


I'm 37 and apparently I should take heart in being in a magic little sweetspot that isn't a downer.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:34 PM on April 27, 2013


I'm 39...

I'm 39 weeks pregnant
I'm 39 and pregnant
I'm 39 and want to get pregnant
I'm 39 and want a baby
Jesus! *backs away from Google slowly*
posted by BrashTech at 1:10 PM on April 27, 2013


A while back, I decided to search for "kitty porn" to see if I would get cats or porn. Google asked if I wanted to search "kiddie porn," which I found quite shocking, given that it was basically suggesting I search for something illegal.
posted by Maias at 1:42 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Aieeee, that's disturbing. I was hoping you would have just been redirected to Cute Overload.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:44 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]



People who aren't sexist don't type "women are" or "women should" into Google.


"women are human"
"women are mainly bipedal"
"women should not have to put up with sexist shit"
"women should be able to come up with lots of counterexamples to slick-sounding but obviously false assertions, and so should non-women"
posted by kengraham at 4:11 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I decided to search for "kitty porn"

I dunno, maybe someone misheard "kiddie porn" as a slightly more innocent "kitty porn" and the google corrects their misperception.

Also, the search term "kiddie porn" should also return results about child pornography, not the pornographic material itself.
posted by porpoise at 4:47 PM on April 27, 2013


what if I don't...

what if I don't get a 1099
what if I don't get a w2
what if I don't get into college
what if I don't have baking soda
posted by donut_princess at 4:49 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suddenly feel the urge to google 'I am (random age here) and I am fucking awesome' over and over again, hoping to make a difference.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:59 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


do I have the flu
do I have java
do I have add
do I have to file taxes

That about rounds it up for things you could have, actually
posted by en forme de poire at 6:24 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In addition to half-a-dozen fertility-related queries, I also get 'I'm 24 and can't grow a beard'. So there's one guy-specific search.
posted by Gordafarin at 12:35 AM on April 28, 2013


I also get 'I'm 24 and can't grow a beard'. So there's one guy-specific search.

..and which gender is likely to have more issues growing a beard?
posted by jaduncan at 4:35 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


my cat eats plastic
my cat eats dog food
my cat eats everything
my cat eats paper

this is not my cat
posted by Ella Fynoe at 6:14 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google Poetics (previously) takes a verse look at autocomplete.
posted by codacorolla at 7:01 AM on April 28, 2013


Maybe the real question is 'why don't our search engines support natural language searches instead of totally abstract keyword searches?'

Wasn't that how Ask Jeeves worked?
posted by inigo2 at 9:58 AM on April 28, 2013


I'm 44 and male and quite disturbed that the word "geriatric" is being used in the same sentence as the age "49".

Never mind 49, up until not that long ago, one commonly used medical term for a woman over 35 who was pregnant with her first baby was "geriatric primigravida." (Now they tend to say "advanced maternal age.")
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:20 PM on April 28, 2013


geriatric primigravida

And we have a lovely ragù with locally sourced boar and rosemary, house made tagliatelle for twenty three dollars...
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:39 PM on April 28, 2013


I tried typing in things like "I'm 8 and" and the suggestions were so gross that I had to stop. They have got to be chaining together common search sequences. It cannot be that 8yos are Googling these things.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:26 PM on April 28, 2013


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