The Don Quixote of Online Quizzes
Anyone who uses Facebook or Twitter has encountered them — those “What ___ are you in ____ ?” quizzes, surely some of the dumbest products of human culture in existence. They are basically computer games, but if you are going to waste your life on computer games aren’t there ones that are more interesting than answering some questions about your favorite color and what you eat for breakfast and then being told that you “are” some character on a TV Show? But occasionally exceedingly dumb works of human culture are the occasion for brilliant satire. Thus Amadis of Gaul is satirized by Don Quixote, American “self-help” books are satirized by Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos, etc.
And now “What ___ are you?” quizzes have found their Don Quixote, their Lost in the Cosmos. The uQuizz “Which Early Christian Heresy Are You?” takes the genre and then satirizes, deconstructs, and transforms it so thoroughly that the result can only be called art. Like Walker Percy’s mock quizzes in Lost in the Cosmos, or David Foster Wallace’s in “Octet,” the multiple choice “answers” themselves already deconstruct the questions. The questions range from the surreal-as-a-Borges-story (“You wake up one morning to find yourself inside a lemon. What is your first course of action?”), to the magnificently irrelevant (“Which of these is your favourite obscure Scandinavian symphonic composer?”).
Like, Quixote “Which Early Christian Heresy” reflexively turns on its own writing:
Q : What annoyed you most about this quiz?
A [1 of 8]: The fact that this opportunity to complain is itself a part of the quiz and will not be used by the author to improve future quizzes.
It might seem that the analogate here would not be so much Quixote as the most nihilistic sort of postmodern metafiction, but this quiz is not ultimately nihilistic; a meditation on the absurdity of existence yes, but just as in Cervantes’s masterpiece absurdity does not have the final word.