Patterns and trends

I find patterns for a living, my job involves analysing past data and understanding the drivers of recent trends, and using this information to predict what might happen in the future. I have realised that before you know it, you start finding patterns in the smallest things in life. Now don’t judge me as I give you some examples.

  • I have a mental record of the lifetime of my pots and pans and I compare trends over time. I also do a price vs lifespan comparison. For some reason I remember the price of most things I’ve bought, so it makes the ratio calculation easier. My conclusion from this is that a certain prestigious Indian brand produces poor quality ceramic coated pans.
  • I once used my free time on train platforms in the UK to assess how late a train needs to be for authorities to apologise. 3 minutes. 
  • Not too long ago, I was using a terrible mobile network. I started using Google’s connectivity statistics to monitor coverage by geographical area. So I then tuned my connectivity expectations in line with my research findings. I would get frustrated only if my network was poor in an area where I’m supposed to have good connectivity..
  • My friends and I try to make our own control lines around the weather predictions on the BBC website. The main aim here is to resist wearing a jacket in summers. “It’s not about the temperature, check the range of the wind speed instead” or “If it says ‘showers’ or ‘light rain’ I can handle it without an umbrella.”

It’s a useful habit I suppose, helps me stay weather protected, buy pans wisely, change my travel routes such that I can use my phone etc. But it still doesn’t tell me anything about the useless pattern finding, like when would they apologise (in advance!) for a train that’s expected to run late.

This urge to find patterns may lead me to conclude that I’m in the right job, maybe it’s good that a person like me spends their day understanding trends and making conclusions. But sometimes I wonder if it’s the other way around. Have I become so used to finding order in the chaos, finding a method to the madness that I have forgotten what it’s like to let the little things in life be random and unexplained? 

I didn’t always check whether it’s supposed to rain, definitely not as a child. If it rained, we gleefully got drenched, made paper boats, jumped in puddles, gorged on steaming samosas, and came back home to annoyed parents!

So why is it that we now feel the need to be able to plan, understand, forecast and explain everything? It’s probably part of this whole ‘being a grown up’ package. Oh well, there you go, there’s another explanation.