Perhaps nothing speaks better to the self-absorbed temperament of young Americans than the rise of the introspective quiz. These cotton-candy versions of Myers-Briggs and Taylor-Johnson first appeared in teen magazines, as demand for scientific approaches for determining one’s fashion sense and flirting style surged. As fellow Facebookers may have noticed, this 10-question approach for determining one’s place in the world has reached an all-time high with the advent of social networking sites, where a participant can now confidently proclaim to her 314 closest friends that if she were a fruit, she would be a kiwi.
Every day, I get dozens of quiz requests. My inbox is cluttered with questions like “Which Disney princess are you?” “Who were you in a past life?” “What is your best quality?” “Are you a pirate, ninja, or cowboy?”
(Note: Every quiz to which I refer in this post actually appears on Facebook. I’m not making these up…And if you’re interested, I think I’d be a ninja.)
The quizzes really run the gamut. From the shameless marketing of “How much do you love Coca-Cola?” to the existential subtlety of “How evil are you?” to the ironic “Which common stereotype do you fit?” Facebook quizzes invite participants to spend countless hours pondering the intricate nature of themselves.
I mean, who would have thought to ever ask themselves, “which Disney song best reflects my life right now?” or “what weapon best suites my personality?” You never know when someone might need to know. It’s a whole new world out there these days…shining, shimmering, splendid…so you want to be prepared.
Of course, a few of these quizzes leave me scratching my head. For example: “Are you a blonde or brunette?” It seems to me that if you have to take a quiz to figure that out, you’re probably a blonde.
What’s fantastic about these quizzes is that after you’ve finished taking them, they congratulate you for your results. Answer a few short questions to determine “what kind of furniture are you,” and within minutes you get a joyous response: “Congratulations! You are a lamp! You're a warm and friendly person who's probably very sociable but probably doesn't go out at night.” Some quizzes will even tell you with whom you are compatible. I’m guessing for the lamp, it’s a night stand.
Having already taken scientifically legitimate personality tests to pigeon-hole myself, I always thought these silly quizzes were beneath me…that is until the “Which Jane Austen Heroine are You?” quiz appeared in my inbox.
It was just too tempting.
You see, I love Jane Austen stories. I’ve read every book, seen every movie, and been known to name a stuffed animal or two after Mr. Darcy. As a student of literature, I’d like to say that it is Austen’s subtle satire, masterful character development, and nuanced prose that draws me to her romantic comedies…but at the end of the day, it’s probably just the girly thrill of seeing who ends up marrying whom.
I just couldn’t resist the urge to confirm my already deeply-held belief that I am the physical incarnation of Austen’s all-time greatest heroine, Elizabeth Bennett.
However, as I worked my way through the 10-question- quiz, I found myself manipulating the system a bit. For example, the quiz asked me to identify a quote that best reflects my attitude about life right now. If I were to be honest, I would probably check the box next to “life became a quick succession of busy nothings.” But I knew that was a quote from Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, and so instead I checked the box next to “I am determined that nothing but the deepest love could ever induce me into matrimony,” knowing it was a quote from Elizabeth.
Sure enough, when I finished taking the quiz I got the answer I was looking for.
“Congruatlations!” it said. “You are Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice! You are memorable, lovely and clever, the life of the party... you always have the perfect thing to say in every situation. Your honesty, virtue, and lively wit enable you to rise above the nonsense and bad behavior that pervade your money-seeking and often spiteful society. Nevertheless, your sharp tongue and tendency to make hasty judgments often lead you astray... if not careful, you can display qualities that you despise - pride and prejudice. But if you can get past negative first impressions, your life and love story will be epic!!!”
So true! How did it know?!
So, let’s hear it for stupid Facebook quizzes! Thanks to them, millions of people are spending countless hours congratulating themselves for having Agnelina Jolie’s worldview, Princess Jasmine’s personality, and Colonel Sanders’ fashion sense. Boy, are they narcissists! (Sorry. That’s just my Elizabeth-Bennett-style prejudice coming through.)