Acts of Incompetent Genius

I had this sudden idea the other night while I was eating a steak dinner and watching some Frontline special about technology (settle down, boys, this girl’s taken) that it’d be an interesting, potentially time-saving experiment to see if I could keep myself from Wonder Killing for an entire week. For me, that means not Googling something the very second I have a question.

I thought I’d probably need to keep a diary of this time, both to keep my hands from Googling, and to write about whether or not it was difficult for me to stay away from Googling. Then I imagined the essay I might write after the experiment was over. There’d probably be this list of things I’d been wondering over the week. Important things, like, “What season did George Clooney join Facts of Life? or “How many cups in a liter?” or “Horse jokes dirty” or “Bare Necessities Promo Code.” Bloated by my Frontline-enhanced ego (it’s similar to when we all think we could just write for This American Life or when someone says, “You should do my life as a sitcom”), I pictured this essay would create an entertaining discussion of how many random questions float through our minds during the day that we perhaps used to use to engage in entertaining conversations, but instead now we answer things on our own, clicking into our private encyclopedias at the end of our fingertips.

I decided to try it. Right then. One week without Googling. If that worked well, perhaps one month! There’s a book idea! One month without Google. I’d be like a pioneer woman, constantly in the past, having to ask people what’s going on and why is this happening and seriously, what season did George Clooney join Facts of Life, and why am I the only person who remembers he was a dreamy doctor on a sitcom called E/R long before he played a dreamy doctor on a show called E.R.?

I would definitely have to stay away from car trips and dinner parties, where I’m pretty much always answering a question (usually one nobody really needed answered) via my iPhone. I would have to tell you guys at No wonder killing spoilers! Because that would be cheating. I thought about making a Twitter account I could use to write all the questions I couldn’t answer, just so you could follow my anxiety as I piled up unanswered wonders. Maybe all this pondering and questioning would lead to a breakthrough! Maybe I would solve something, cure something, develop a superbrain capable of remembering more than one phone number!

I was excited and nervous about giving it a try, which is why I thought it was probably a good idea. No more procrastinating deadlines getting lost in unnecessary research. No more solving other people’s Facebook wonders with immediate links to click. Just me in the here and now, pondering all old school style. Sitting around, wonderin’.

I’d decided I was definitely doing it just as I took my very last bite of the steak I was eating, and then I thought about how I wasn’t sure how many calories were in steak, so I googled “calories in steak” and then I realized I am my own problem.

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  1. Kara

    I knew George Clooney was on Facts of Life but sweet Jesus, I never needed to know what season until this very moment. I… I’m.. shaking with the effort of not looking that up.

    But I shall join you in your pledge. I will go for a full month without looking that up! Probably!

    1. Pamie

      Oh, make no mistake. I am not taking this pledge. I didn’t even make it .05 seconds!

  2. Chandler

    I just googled “no google challenge”.

    1. Pamie

      OMG, I just did that. The ladies who are forum-posting their symptoms without Googling them for 30 days? I WOULD NEVER HAVE THAT KIND OF STRENGTH.

  3. lori

    Or my new game…rent Netflix and Google it in the first ten minutes to read the entire synopsis. I was real fun to watch The Godfather with (it was my first time seeing it). Did you know that was Diane Keeton? Now you do!

  4. mel

    You are NOT the only one who remembers Clooney in E/R. One of the many series I have been compelled to view due to my hopeless adoration of Conchata Ferrell, who is beyond awesome despite having been in some world-class crap.

    1. Pamie

      Yes! Conchata Ferrell ruled that show. Add to the list of things I know in my head for reasons I can’t explain: The lyrics to “Love Handles,” a song Conchata’s character’s boyfriend wrote for her and sang over the hospital phone line (or maybe a call-in radio?).

      1. Crabby Apple Seed

        I remember the show, too. Wasn’t Elliot Gould the lead? I could google that, or better yet, imdb it, but I’m feeling kind of lazy…

    2. Lane

      “Stay back of the white line!”

  5. Susan

    Wait… wonder-killing aside, we can’t all just write for This American Life?

    Next you’re going to tell me I’m never going to be a panelist on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…

  6. Lori

    I am ashamed to say that without googling, I can still tell you that George Clooney did not play a dreamy doctor on E/R but a dreamy nurse, who got “straight C’s” in nursing school and was Conchata Ferrell’s nephew.

    I can tell you all this but ask me what year the Civil War started and I will draw a blank. Fail.

    1. Pamie

      My comments feature is gonna need a like button.

    2. Lane

      I thought he was an EMT. I remember his name was Ace (is that right? I should google it).

      1. Pamie

        No need to Google, I have Wonder Killed for you!

  7. MaryAnne

    Oh, you are not alone … I totally remember E/R … Elliot Gould and all!

    I think the first Glarkware shirt I ever bought was “Wonder Killer” – it describes me to a (forgive me) tee.

    And OK, we WKs may get some eye-rolls, but who do those same people count on to know the answers when THEY are desperate to remember what season Clooney joined Facts of Life?

  8. Jane

    @Lori, knew that he wasn’t a dr., but couldn’t remember if he was nurse or an attendant. I *can* tell you that the Civil War started in 1861 and ended on 9 April 1865, w/o looking.

  9. abp

    1. Pamie


  10. Estevan J. Chuy Zarate

    If I were to try this, I would cheat. It would be so easy in this day of smartphones to have someone just google for you…

  11. Katie

    I was watching the Craig Fergusion show and Kristen Bell was the guest. Craig kept mentioning things like Viva Laughlin and restaurants and she had no idea what he was talking about because he could not remember the names of anything. I remember thinking “This would be less painful to watch if she had an iPad on her lap and could just quickly google whatever he is talking about.”

  12. Sid

    Do you know where I can find the lyrics to the song “Love Handles” (from the TV show “E/R”)?