["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published November 20, 2023] 2023
For my 500th Let Inga Tell You column (yes, it really is), I had to ask myself: could I have saved a lot of time if the AI bot Chatgpt had come out sooner? Inquiring minds (mine) really wanted to know.
So I thought I'd give us the same topic - in this case, being the family worrier - and ask Chatgpt to write 300 words on being the family worrier in the style of Let Inga Tell You. I mean, Chat only had 490+ examples of my style to work from including one on this exact topic.
So here s Chat's version of me:
Oh, let me tell you all about being the family worrier. You see, I was born with the uncanny ability to take any situation and twist it into a potential catastrophe. It's not a title I asked for, mind you, but it's one I wear with a certain degree of pride. You might call me Inga, but around these parts, they call me the Worrier-in-Chief.
From the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes at night, my mind is a whirlwind of anxious thoughts and fretful pondering.
My family, bless their hearts, has learned to take my worrisome tendencies in stride. They've developed a sort of Worrier-to-English dictionary to decipher my cryptic statements. When I say, "I heard a strange noise outside," they know it means, "The apocalypse is imminent, and we should start stockpiling canned goods." And when I ask, "Do you think the dog looks a little lethargic today?" they understand that it translates to, "We must rush Fido to the vet immediately before he contracts a rare and deadly canine disease."
In many ways, being the family worrier is a heavy burden to bear. My sleepless nights and racing thoughts can be exhausting, and I often feel like a one-woman anxiety factory. But there's a silver lining in all of this, you know. My penchant for worrying has made me the most prepared person you'll ever meet. I've got a first-aid kit that could rival a small hospital, a pantry stocked to survive the next ice age, and a network of emergency contacts that would put a superhero's rolodex to shame.
So, while my family might roll their eyes and chuckle at my constant state of worry, they also know that when the chips are down, I'll be the one with a plan, a flashlight, and a stash of chocolate bars to get us through any crisis. And for that, they're grateful even if they have to endure my never-ending fretting along the way.
Here, meanwhile, is a segment from my June 15, 2023 Let Inga Tell You column entitled "The family worrier":
Anxiety disorders run in my family. That's why I was interested in an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune a while back entitled "Mulling the worst: One therapist's anxiety fix." Her solution for combating anxiety is to imagine the worst that could happen and then, she's decided in her inexplicably delusional way, you will realize that even the worst isn't that bad.
I'm sure this therapist is a very nice lady but I can only assume she s been out of graduate school for a matter of days. We worriers are world-class catastrophic thinkers. In all modesty, it's where we excel.
For example, she says, if your kid is anxious about missing the soccer ball during a game, you should sit down with him and ask, would that so terrible?
Hell yes! The other kids on the team will probably never let him forget it, teasing him about it in perpetuity. If they lose the game, it will be his fault. His teammates will nickname him Klutzoid, a moniker that will stick with him into his octogenarian years. The coach will stop playing him, and any hope he will ever have at playing up to the next level is permanently shot. Someone will post it on Facebook where it will be immortalized forever and played at his wedding. So, not so bad ? Hah! I don t think so!
From time to time my husband Olof has tried to convince me that the worrying itself was not the reason an event went well but my thorough planning. But then, what does he know?
OK, there s some admittedly catchy phrases in Chat s version. But seriously, this is how Chatgpt thinks I sound? I'm a tad offended. Chat's version seemed a tad bland. Sort of like, well, a bot wrote it.
And in the 400,000 words of my oeuvre that Chat had to model me from, did I ever once use the word fret ? I do not fret. I whine. There is a big difference.
So, am I in danger of being put out of business by Chatgpt? You tell me.
My own conclusion: Find your own voice, AI. This one s mine.