I heard the door close for the third time, signaling that all my roommates had left. I grabbed a banana from the pantry for breakfast and went back to my room. I had half an hour to kill before I had to leave for class, so I sat on my bed and played with my Google Home.
“Hey Google, tell me a joke.”
“Okay Google, what’s the weather like today?”
“Hey Google, what’s the latest news?” *cue programmed podcast.
“Hey Google, what planet would I be?”
That’s a real question I can ask my Google Home, and it will cue a personality quiz. Apparently I’m Pluto—that’s not even a planet. So, I took the quiz again.
“Which color would you dye your hair? Red or Blue?” my Google Home asks. Or “Would you rather stay in and read a book or go to a party?”
Blue and mm-hmm, tough one—book, I guess? So much fun, and somehow so addicting. A little late to class, I told my friends all about this sweet new feature. “You guys all have to come over and test it out! It’s just like a Buzzfeed quiz.”
To click on a Buzzfeed quiz is a guaranteed path to at least 40 minutes procrastination. You’re in the basement of the library, and you’re feeling pretty burned out. You are struggling to finish the essay you’ve been working on, so you get on Facebook for a two minute break. After a few too many clicks and way behind schedule, you’ve determined your ideal pet, when you’ll get married, what kind of buffet you would be, the type of pizza of your alter ego, and nothing else that makes sense from a website with endless personality quizzes. You may feel very enlightened, satisfied, and pretty confident if your personality is compatible to a slice of pepperoni and pineapple.
But the feeling will soon wear off, and you will realize you have learned nothing more about yourself. Nothing was accomplished during that time. As for your paper—a blank page and MLA header stares you in the face.
Why did you do that, you ask yourself. How did you get so carried away? How did I get so carried away telling my Google Home what hair color I prefer—sitting alone in my apartment?
The common thread here—why do we like personality quizzes? Why are we obsessed with the idea of putting personal information in some computerized algorithm?
I think this stems from our innate tendencies to be categorized. As much as we hate to admit, most of us like being sorted and labeled—emphasis on most of us, not all. I love bonding with people because we are both ENTJs. I love reading about the personality traits of my zodiac sign. I’m in a sorority, and I’ve classified myself as a Media Studies and English major.
During my teenage years and into my 20s, I’ve heard the motivational, reassuring speeches with the tagline, “You’re growing up and finding your place.” Finding your place.
Why is that so comfortable? To be reassured that we will eventually be confined to a particular place in society, that we will find our “true selves?”
Maybe it’s not so deep. Maybe it’s just that we like the aesthetics of the Buzzfeed website. The pictures under each option are very nice. Maybe we just want to share our results with our friends. My sister will text me the link to quizzes, along with a screenshot of her results. Maybe I’m just obsessed with my Google Home. That is a fact.
But ultimately, I think personality quizzes speak to one of society’s greatest fears. It’s the classic middle school nightmare—not fitting in. It’s the failure of human connection and assuming one’s place in society. What if I’m not like everyone else?
“Hours of my torment—I wonder if other men ever have the like, out of the like feelings?” Walt Whitman said.