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#PersonalityTestMania – I’m A Sith Lord, Fish Taco From 1920s Narnia | Noah Stepro

Noah Stepro

Noah Stepro

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#PersonalityTestMania – I’m A Sith Lord, Fish Taco From 1920s Narnia

And more importantly, why do you (and I) care so much? My social media feeds have been flooded with an assortment of Zimbio personality quizzes lately – every thing from “Which Disney Princess Are You?” to “What Is Your Real Age?” or “Which Career Should You Actually Have?“. Some of them are slightly reasonable and some of them are totally absurd. Ok, I will own it…my inner Jedi was doing force levitations to see what Star Wars character I was. Do I really need an arbitrary site to tell me what character I am? Of course I don’t…this is the free world…I can decide to be Darth Vader if I want to (that was my result on said quiz)…I am also justified to throw the results out the proverbial window and choose to be C-3PO . I can even decide that my inner Star Wars character is actually Albus Dumbledore and that the city I should live in is really Paris even though I was told it was Tokyo. I am a bacon-guacamole burger that is actually 22 and should have been an interior designer.

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This latest cyber-obsession reveals a deeper need for affirmation that lingers just below the surface for all of us. Since the dawn of time we look to others for reinforcement and affirmation – this is a neutral act. Socially speaking, this can be a good thing…much of the time we as a society affirm behaviors and actions that we collectively value. Occasionally, however, we search for this affirmation through narcissistic and self-enveloped practices. I suggest the #PersonalityTestMania is one such practice.

 

See, what we are really asking when we fill out questioners to discover which “Friends” character we are? The practice of #PersonalityTestMania is the next evolution in cyber-isolation and self-affirmation. These quizzes tell us what we want to hear…anyone with a modicum of intelligence know what answers to fill in to hear the result they long for. On you “drink of choice” pick red wine if you want Paris and craft beer if you want Portland. There is no hierarchy of answers on these tests, their purpose is to bolster your self-esteem. This trend flows naturally from the progression of self-curated social media.

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Since the days of AOL chat room profiles, through the rise of Myspace and into the era of Facebook we have learned to present highly edited portraits of our lives to our cyber friends and family. Our redactive pulse is increased through every “like”, “poke”, and “retweet” we get. Apparently, these digital affirmations are tantamount to the psychological and emotional equivalent of a hug. A research group recently did a study on the generation of affection through social media affirmation and found the levels of dopamine released through “liking” and commenting on posts was higher than said effect from smoking…thus making it more addictive and harder to quite. Crazy huh? FB is more addictive than smoking.

 

There is a catch with FB posts, however…PEOPLE have to like them. So what if you are inherently un”like”able? In other words, a cyber tool? You need to eliminate the uncontrollable HUMAN element in your quest for dopamine releasing, online, self-affirmation: Enter Zimbio. The level of cyber curating at work in these types of online engagements is unprecedented…and therefore a little scary. We take these as a means of emotional and psychological self-medicating.

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Now, I’m not saying that everyone who takes these quizzes is a sociopathic, narcissistic, megalomaniac in deep need of artificial stimulation, nor am I saying they are inherently bad…I’ll be the first person to admit I wanted to find out which era music group I belonged too (like that means anything). What I am saying is that the popularity and plurality of these assessments of meaning and purpose is totally understandable and expected when placed within the greater trend of cyber-reinforcement. Are you taking these quizzes as a means of procrastinating your next work project or avoiding homework? Or is there something slightly deeper going on? What do you rely on to affirm your identity?

What do you think?

Please keep your comments polite and on-topic.