I remember, back in the early-to-mid 2000’s, when I used to come home from school, drop my schoolbag off next to the front door, grab a soda from the fridge, and plop my ass in front of the family computer, basically usurping any and all potential users that day. Of course, back then, us crazy kids didn’t have no Facebooks. We had to communicate with friends with far more primitive means.
We had MySpace – the Internet’s Two Cans and a String.
That meant there was no Farmville Notification Crisis of 2008, no Mass Event Invite Storm of 2009-2011, and no Newsfeed Auto-Play Ads of 2014. Yes, we had to go out of our way to see how folks were doing. That meant searching them by name, narrowing down their location, attempting to find the correct mirror selfie, adding them, and THEN seeing what the hell they’ve been up to.
Even though I generally have a memory of someone who’s been hit in the face with a shovel too many times, I’d like to think that this next vivid recall is true. Because I remember, at the very beginning of high school, the surge of homemade quizzes going crazy-viral. People would make up about 25-30 questions in a single blog post, answering questions about their lives, and then like wildfire, others would copy and paste it directly into THEIR profiles, to answer questions about them. I tend to refer to that as “social leprosy.”
Once we all joined Facebook, I’m almost positive I heard everyone pledge, “we promise not to treat this network as a means to take stupid goddamn quizzes.” And now, ten years later, here we are, sticking true to our word.
Except not. Except quizzes are more viral than ever.
WE PROMISED. WE PROMISED WE’D STOP.
Look, I’m as much of a cinephile as the next person. I love relating myself to popular characters in television, films, and books. Creating a sense of relation between ourselves and others, whether they’re real or not, nurtures the many needs of empathy.
But let’s sit back and be real honest with ourselves. Just once.
We are not Walter White.
We are not Jacob Black.
We are not Tyrion Lannister.
We are not Rick Grimes.
We are not Cyclops.
We weren’t “supposed” to live in Sunnyside Heights.
We weren’t Marilyn Monroe in another life.
None of us are any of the cast members of How I Met Your Mother.
None of us are any of the characters Leonardo DiCaprio has played.
And lastly, I can NOT believe I have to say this, but we are NOT Rosa Parks. (Yes. I saw a quiz that asked what type of leader someone was. If you’re that focused on creating positive change, you probably shouldn’t be taking a quiz based on whether or not you’re effective.)
What these quizzes do is affirm two things: what we already know about ourselves, or what we wish was true about ourselves.
What we already know about ourselves is that we are good people, who have a passion for our hobbies and our career goals, or we know we’re “firecrackers,” who will do whatever it takes to get what we want. So, knowing what we do about ourselves, we don’t need a quiz to affirm it. We can live it.
Secondly, it’s fun to play pretend, even after we’re old enough to buy alcohol or go to nightclubs. It’s even more fun to pretend to be people/characters of influence, because it’s easy and it fluffs that ego just enough to move on to the next quiz.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being a 23-year-old presumptuous curmudgeon, trying to take happiness away from others. Actually, yeah, that’s probably mostly it. But if people spent more time reading non-fiction or watching historical documentaries, maybe then they could emulate the type of person they want to be, and become an individual who sets themselves apart from the pack. Harness the power of reality to become larger than life.
Or be Barney Stinson, because equating one’s self to a walking STD is much easier.
Screw it. “Block all from Buzzfeed and Zimbio.” Done. Go about your lives.