Saturday, May 3, 2014

Who are you? Five Theories about Internet Quizzes.

I was going to title this: “Why don’t we know who we are?” because of the proliferation of quizzes going around on the internet aimed at resolving this perplexing issue:

What character from Lord of the Rings are you?
What character from Downton Abby are you?
What Disney princess are you?
What color are you?
What bird are you?
What animal are you?
What superhero are you?

But I am more interested in a different question: Why do we take these tests? Do we really have so little awareness of ourselves that we need a stranger and a quiz to tell us we are Frodo or Dumbledore or Iron Man or Pocahontas or Snape or purple or an eagle? And face it. sometimes we end up being someone we don’t want to be--so we take it again and tweak a few of the answers that we were ambivalent about. Because we wanted to be Samwise or Voldemort.

Why are we thus engaged? I have some theories.
1. We are in need of entertainment and these somehow qualify as “fun” in our time-space continuum.
If this is the case, I suggest we get a life and BE who we want to be, rather than take a quiz to tell us we are the ringbearer to Mount Doom or the Dowager Countess.

2. We are avoiding doing something important or something we need to so.
In which case, we are taking procrastination to new levels. I recommend we stop taking quizzes and DO the hard thing.

3. We truly don’t know who we are.
And sadly, we think that a ten question internet quiz will shed some light on that? If this is the case, we are more deluded than we know--and internet quizzes will be a panacea even though they won’t answer our question. Quiz on, my friend, quiz on.

4. We hope we are like someone we admire.
Truth be told, we are all aware of how transparent the questions are and where they will lead. So anyone with a modicum of insight can skew the results to make it come out to be whom he or she admires without being in the slightest like that person. (With the possible exception of a colour--haven’t quite figured out how that one works.)

5. We need affirmation.
This, I suspect is the secret underlying cause for the proliferation of internet quizzes which portend to deal with our deep, subterranean identities. Truly we are wading in the shallows if we want to be affirmed by an impersonal multiple choice task that supposedly interprets our clicked preference into the deeper realities of our persona. And then, whoever we turn out to be--the “you are so and so” description will airbrush the character into someone of interest, superlative positive attributes, and tingly sounding affirmatives (even if we turn out to be Loki). But, I have noticed, the character is rarely a person of character; rarely one who makes choices based on honor or integrity. 

So: do we stop taking these quizzes? I don’t know. Are we characters or do we have character?


Eva Burkholder said...

Great insight Karen. I guess I'm too busy to spend time this way.

Marcia Thomas said...

Well, judging from this blog post, I'm pretty sure you got Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Marcie said...

179I hear you. I think there's another "reason," although it syncs with any of the ones you'e mentioned. That one is: I'm purely intrigued by the types of questions put on these quizzes, how they are chosen, and determinations how are made. If I every go back and "tweak" some answers (extremely rare) is simply to see if it would actually make a difference. And it hasn't. So, why do I take them?
1. Some entertainment..but even that is to make a response to someone else who has done it..sarcastic, humorous interaction, I suppose. And the #2 reason (or #1??) is yes, indeed, I'm just procrastinating. I am the Queen, you know. :-(