Answering the Unanswerable

Every so often, I take a look at my blog statistics to see which articles are performing well. And one article that’s just hung in there for years is the one I wrote on getting into BYU. Here we are three years later, and it usually picks up a few views every day, day in and day out. I don’t link to it (well, other than just now), don’t mention it on Facebook. It’s out there in the wild, attracting views from the public at large.

Today, when I saw it had picked up some more, I wondered what it was about the article that attracted eyeballs. Why that one and not others? And I think the reason is that it scratches an itch people have. A desire to answer an unanswerable question. Because when people start googling “getting into BYU” or “how hard is it to get into BYU,” they don’t really want to know that answer. Sure, breaking it down statistically is interesting, but the question they really want to know the answer to is “Will my child get into BYU?” And that’s a question no one can answer until BYU’s admissions process answers it one way or the other.

I understand this desire, however. The thought that if I can just research things well enough, I’ll be able to figure it all out. (Whatever “it” happens to be at the moment. Right now it’s cars. Sometimes it’s trips to Europe or Disney. Who knows what it will be tomorrow.) But as I’m constantly reminded, sometimes research just has its limits. You can get all the information you want, but you still won’t be able to know if that particular car will be reliable in the future, or if the airfares will go down in price next month, or if Disney will have a better deal later.

The problem is, because the internet is so big and vast, it’s easy to think you just haven’t looked in the right places. And to make matters worse, sometimes you haven’t. Google doesn’t point you in the best direction every time. It relies on the search query you use, and sometimes you’re using the wrong one. After hours looking in less helpful places, you stumble across something that’s way better than anything you’ve seen to date. And then of course you start to wonder if there isn’t something even better, just around the next corner.

At some point in time, you have to accept that you’ve got limits. That you have to make a decision. Send in that application and hope for the best. Book the ticket.

But for people like me, you’ll still always wonder if there wasn’t something else you could have checked or read that would have given you even better information, which in turn would have made All the Difference.

Leave a comment