Tag Archives: William Gibson

Before You Diagnose Yourself with Depression or Low Self-Esteem…

Sigmund Freud? William Gibson? @debihope? Anonymous?

bench07Dear Quotes Investigator: There is a saying about maintaining emotional health that is both heartfelt and sardonic. The words have been attributed to the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the award-winning science fiction author William Gibson. Here are two versions:

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.

I think that the ascription to Freud is unlikely. Would you please examine this topic?

Quotes Investigator: QI believes that this saying was crafted relatively recently, and it first appeared online. Because electronic text is malleable, and attached dates are sometimes inaccurate the task of tracing recent expressions is difficult. In this case, the database of tweets seems to provide solid information.

The earliest evidence located by QI was the following tweet from 2010: 1

Twitter Handle: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope
Timestamp: 12:23 PM – 24 Jan 2010

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

When QI communicated with @debihope she indicated that she was the originator of the expression, and she provided the following insight to its formulation: 2

Popped right out of my own head and based on a past boyfriend.

Here are additional selected citations in semi-chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Tweet, From: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope, Time: 12:23 PM, Date: January 24, 2010, Text: Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. (Accessed on twitter.com on October 25, 2014) link
  2. Tweet, From: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope, Time: 2:39 PM, Date: October 17, 2014, Text: @QuoteResearch Popped right out of my own head and based on a past boyfriend. (Accessed on twitter.com on October 25, 2014) link

The Future Has Arrived — It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed Yet

William Gibson? Anonymous? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I work at Google, and a colleague of mine who leads our Search Education efforts pointed out your site as a great resource for people learning to search smarter. I love the site!

There is a quotation credited to the influential and award-winning science fiction author William Gibson that we’ve used on multiple occasions. But we are not certain whether Gibson said it:

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.

If you’d care to investigate, you’d have at least a couple thankful fans here.

Quote Investigator: Gibson is a brilliant author, and this is a perceptive and piquant quotation. In 1990 he appeared in a documentary called “Cyberpunk”, and he discussed the differential access to technological developments based on wealth and location. He also stated a version of a key part of the maxim [CPWG]:

The future has already happened.

The earliest evidence for the full version of the saying was found by top quotation expert Fred Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, who kindly shared the citation with QI. In 1992 the San Francisco Examiner published an article about the nascent technology of virtual reality, and the journalist Scott Rosenberg credited a version of the adage to Gibson [WGSF]:

Once whole worlds can be simulated for the senses, the only way to assure the integrity of the public imagination will be to get the power to create those worlds out of the hands of an elite and into general circulation. As William Gibson put it: “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

With the help of Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired magazine and a pivotal neoteric thinker, QI was able to obtain a comment from William Gibson about the genesis of this saying and where it might have appeared initially. Kelly relayed that “Gibson does not remember when he first said it, but it was not something he wrote.” Gibson stated [KKGO]:

The problem is that the idea would have preceded its first recorded public utterance by quite some time, in the way of these things. I would assume I thought it, then eventually said it to friends, and that by the time I said it in an interview (the most likely scenario) it had become an idea I took for granted. It wasn’t something generated to give a talk, nor was it in some essay or article.

Gibson can be heard employing a version of the maxim during a 1999 interview on National Public Radio. He was complimented for the accuracy of his predictions by the interviewer and was asked if he read the technical literature. Gibson said that he “read very little technical literature at all” and then he downplayed his predictive skills [NRTN]:

…actually I spend a lot of my time, a lot of my media time trying to disown my prescience…

… as I’ve said many times the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading