As a writer and reader of unquestionably good books (hah!), it is embarrassing for one to admit the lure of the Facebook quiz. But it’s there, goddammit, every time you log on, you find a new quiz you want to try out.
It is worth noting that not all such quizzes interest the writer/reader/user of acceptable punctuation. You want something that sets you apart. No childish “When will I get married?” or “What colour is my aura?” or the ubiquitous “How hot am I?” You’re an intellectual in all things. An aesthete. A twenty-first century Oscar Wilde. So you pick the better quizzes, while disdaining their love of ellipsis and the uncorrected typo. The better quizzes are the ones that reveal who you are deep within, the person you knew you were, but no one could confirm it, until you took the “What famous painting are you?” quiz, and it revealed that you were At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Oh yes, and this means that:
You are a real party animal. You enjoy the company of friends and are very welcoming to new people. You are very social and friendly and you love cosy environments with a bit of kitsch to it. You have no problem at all getting new friends and you are certainly not predjudist or ignorant in any way. You have a possitive attitude towards life and adventure.
You decide to ignore “predjudist” which seems to suggest someone who is about to turn into Judas. You ignore the bland, one-dimensional prose. You appreciate the mention of kitsch. The overall message is positive. You’re not happy, but you’re pleased.
You are alternately satisfied and tickled by news that you are (like) Foreman (from the critically acclaimed TV show House MD; you can’t be a character from a non-critically acclaimed show) and Leo Tolstoy, a.k.a. The Russian. But when a different quiz reveals your deepest, darkest fear, the neurotic core of your being goes into overdrive. You stare at the words, horrified.
You are Sylvia Plath. If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then your neurotic as hell. You’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of your days. You poor soul. You talk to God but the sky is empty. How the demons of your mind ravage you…but damn its a beautiful thing to watch..
You balk at the bad writing. You balk at the idea of it. You balk at the cheaply used ellipsis, the fruity psychology of the writer. You balk because you know what neuroticism actually means, and it’s worse, much worse than what this bit of drivel purports. Then you rationalise. (You’re in Freudian territory, so you might as well.) “Plath was a good writer,” you say. “She wrote ‘Lady Lazarus’. Besides, it was all Ted’s fault she killed herself.” You look around to see if anyone noticed you talking to yourself, breathing monstrously loud.
You decide to publish this piece of information. Perhaps someone will be on your side. Meanwhile you question Facebook’s right to use the word “publish” for a silly thing like the result of a quiz. On the other hand, more people will read the silly thing than a poem you laboured over for a year and then got published in a modest, but reputable magazine in some corner of the internet. Perhaps the word “published” is merited after all.
You decide that one requires a scholarly looking-into of the Facebook phenomenon. Perhaps someone is already on the case, hoping desperately to produce an esoteric PhD that will wow peers, superiors and possibly some laymen. One can dream of such things.
What should be studied specifically is — forget the social dimension of it; the MySpace thesis has been written, lauded and forgotten — the psychological theories put forth informally, yet fairly accurately (you have changed your mind, post-rationalisation) by these Facebook quizzes. For instance, one quiz deduced from your preference for gin a tendency to be extraordinarily morbid, internally aged and verbally flatulent. Quite stunning, you think.
There is one quiz in particular that crystallises your once irrational, but now perfectly acceptable, belief in Facebook’s ability to see within the cavern of your soul with nothing but bleak monitor light: the “What punctuation mark are you?” quiz that reveals:
You are a semicolon. Never boring, always complex, able to comprehend and synthesize multiple pieces of information. You are good at making conversation, and you are always on the lookout for new ideas.
By god, this is the best thing you have ever heard. Absolute genius. This is the sort of thing you can dangle in front of your therapist’s face with glee, followed by an impromptu tribal dance around your poker-faced mother — “Aha! Did you see that? I’m complex, not difficult. I’m misunderstood! This is why you never gave me the childhood I wanted! If I were boring, it would’ve been easy. But no, that couldn’t have been me. No, I was busy finding things and putting them together. Synthesising! I am a genius and now you must recognise it!”
You applaud yourself mentally. This was terribly eloquent of you. Your therapist and mother must be ashamed, but not so ashamed as to forget to be in awe of you. What a conversationalist you are!