As a regular Facebook user, I can personally attest to the recent influx of personality quizzes. They have taken over my news feed, and my results have undoubtedly flooded the news feeds of my friends. Which Broadway Musical Best Describes Your Life? Which U.S. President Are You? Where Should You Actually Life? Which European Country Should You Live In? Which Disney Princess Are You? Which House of Cards Character Are You? (Les Mis, Lincoln, Portland, OR, Austria, Belle, and Remy – in case you were wondering.) But what are we trying to get out of them?
At first, they were fun distractions. Look, my best friend and I are the same Disney Princess! But with time I noticed that their role in our social lives, and on social media, changed. Instead of using them for what they are – fun, meaningless quizzes on the internet – we started to place emotional capital in them. When presented with results we weren’t expecting, the post is accompanied with a sly remark about the flaws of the quiz. It didn’t ask the right questions, the choices just weren’t nuanced enough to get proper results.
That’s when it really hit me. These quizzes, while providing hours of entertainment, are also giving too many of us false cover. We’re using them to run from our true selves. I don’t want to be a Disney Princess, I want to be Rachel. In looking to these quizzes, I and millions of others are asking for affirmation. It would be amazing to visit Austria one day, and travel the world for that matter; however, right now I’d much rather focus on my real life here in South Florida.
What drives us to take these quizzes is different for all of us. Yet, there is an escapist element I believe we all share to differing degrees. Getting home from a really stressful day at work and thinking about how cool it would be to up and move to another country can be fun. However, their pervasiveness worries me. Instead of looking for interactive ways to escape our daily stresses online, why not do it in a more constructive way? Garden, read a book, join a club, volunteer with the Women’s Foundation of Palm Beach County! Embracing these activities keep us grounded in the present, while also allowing us to expand our horizons, meet new people, and discover new things about ourselves. After all, isn’t that what these quizzes are about at some level? Next time you see a quiz on Facebook, ask yourself what you’re really looking to get out of it before clicking. The results may surprise you!
Rachel Wacks is the Foundation Fellow with the Women’s Foundation of Palm Beach County.