Contemplating in Cairo – Vol. 9

Being the internet junky that I am means that I spend long hours online, sometimes reading insightful articles, others just completely wasting my time. Among the websites I spend time on is of course Facebook; that evil social networking website that has us all mesmerized and entertained with all the silliness going on within its web pages. Recently, a new phenomenon has risen on Facebook that has me going back and forth in my head…

What’s with all the personality quizzes everybody’s taking these days?

From ‘What kind of animal are you?’ to ”What type of shoe defines you?” to “Are you clinically insane?”, and it just keeps on getting weirder!

It seems to me that everyone is suddenly on a journey of self discovery and that we have all decided that the best tools to use on this very personal and very important mission are the ones provided by anonymous people on Facebook through applications that not only invade our privacy, but also make a very public announcement of what the results are. Does it matter if these results are accurate? I guess not. Are these quizzes reliable to begin with? I guess we’ll never know…

So what’s with all the personality quizzes everybody’s taking these days? Why the sudden awakening and soul searching? Is it soul searching or are we doing this just for kicks; just to pass the time?

A lot of people are blaming this phenomenon on the global economic crisis we are going through these days. Reasons like recession, unemployment and boredom seem to be the common belief of the reasons behind this sudden interest in self. Can we really blame the economic status for our actions? Perhaps we are a species that feels like we belong when we are part of the majority; when we do what everybody else is doing, regardless of what our personal opinions on the matter may be. We don’t give it a lot of thought, we just think “if everybody’s doing it, why shouldn’t we”. It is our comfort zone; it’s what makes us feel like we are normal.

But, in the process of trying to be normal, aren’t we contradicting ourselves? Don’t we all want to be unique in some way? Special? Different? Aren’t we taking these quizzes; the ones everybody else is taking, just to prove that we are different and unique? I’m puzzled…

Since we have unanimously decided to take a journey into our souls and find out who and what we really are, why are we doing it this way? Why are we relying on these lame and inefficient tools to tell us if we are worthy? Worthy in who’s eyes? Who, or what, is deciding that being a bartender is your perfect job? Why are we trusting a person, or a machine, to tell us that our real nationality is Japanese or Hindi? Why does it matter what kind of shoe you are or what chocolate bar describes you best?

Is it easier for us to be told what and who we are than to actually reflect on these questions ourselves? If so, why? Why do we fail to see our true selves? Why are our images of ourselves; the ones in our own minds, not even close to the truth? Since we are such experts at judging others and labeling them, why are we failures at judging and labeling ourselves? Why do we need a Facebook application to define us?

Another thing I find baffling is the fact that everybody is very happy and willing to share. Suddenly, we have become a species that believes in transparency and we are ok with everybody knowing that our biggest fear is betrayal or that our real age is 45. Do we need that kind of exposure? Are we really ok with the idea of being an open book that anyone can read? Aren’t we vulnerable enough? Aren’t we exposed enough?

So, for now, I agitate myself further and read the results of the countless quizzes everybody is taking, finding it more and more un-fascinating that a friend of mine should have been an Italian with very high IQ, a mentality like president Sadat, living in Canada but speaks Spanish and when people describe them in one word, for some reason, they immediately think “Fresh”!

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