The fact that the English language has a word to describe actions without intentions says a lot about our culture, doesn’t it? Defining the word random involves several levels of complexity, but first and foremost is the knowledge that it was initially developed to define an “impetuous headlong rush.” And today, being a “random” person doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. It equates to being unique or individual, rather than unplanned and hurried.
This picture, which I happened to find simply by Google-ing the word “Random,” demonstrates just that idea; that being random isn’t a negative. I feel, however, that our obsessions with individuality and different-ness is driving people towards a more random and undignified way of approaching life. The “headlong” nature of random acts are perpetuated today with concepts like YOLO.
There are subheadings of countless websites simply titled “Random,” where everything without a specific definition or application fits. Why not just focus your information so that the topics you discuss all fit together? This blog may appear random at times, especially when I draw from obscure places or ideas, but I will never post something without planning it out, finding sources, and explaining why I use it. As a Psychology major, I am fascinated in the way ideas and cultures have developed as a result of language and changes in social climates.
Looking at random from this perspective, we see that it has changed from a description of impetuousness, to arbitrary, and especially in reference to “random acts of violence” (or kindness, depending on your level of optimism). The spikes in Google Trends correlate with shootings, murders, and death, but also interestingly the most popular searches involve ways to apply randomness to your life (ie. in finding random numbers or names). This concept, that randomness is something we need to find, or understand in the case of violence, exemplifies human’s desire to find meaning in a chaotic world.