Episode 303: You’re Not a Person If You Don’t Have a Personality

The Overthinkers tackle Buzzfeed Quizzes and what’s wrong with the internet.

Mark Lee, Shana Mlawski, and Matt Wrather overthink Buzzfeed Quizzes, the problem(s) with the internet, and their favorite bears in popular culture.


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13 Comments on “Episode 303: You’re Not a Person If You Don’t Have a Personality”

  1. Chris Morgan #

    Ahem. There are FIVE Mythbusters. There are the two originals, Adam and Jamie, and then there is the build team of Grant, Tory, and Kari. There used to be Scottie, the Mistress of Metal, but she was replaced with Grant. Also, Jamie and Adam used to have a couple of “mythterns” named, I think, Jess and Kristen. Also, there’s Buster, the test dummy. And some other hangers on. Frank Doyle. J.D. Walsh. Et cetera.

    I have never really taken any of these quizzes, because they are supremely uninteresting, but I did take one once, many years ago. It was a “Which Laguna Beach character are you?” quiz, and I found out, in some form or fashion, that there was a girl on there named Morgan. Naturally, for the humor of posting a “You’re Morgan!” thing on my… LiveJournal, I made it my effort to do just that. Simply guessing, I got it on the first try. This is my life’s greatest accomplishment.


  2. Jez #

    “Well actually”, not only has Stan been in some state of undress on Mad Men, he was completely nude, in answer to a challenge from Peggy (who was also nude). And he was smooth-chested. He was, however, also clean shaven at the time so the actor may have dipilitated his body hair to match, or something, because he does seem like he should be more hirsute than “not at all” these bearded days.


  3. Thomas #

    Any thoughts for taking the quiz as a means to interact with the culture itself?
    You take the quiz because you believe that the world should reflect simple truths, which to be fair is also why you watch West Wing. But for me, the West Wing Quiz doesn’t just allow me to talk more about myself using the language of this thing I like, but it is also a quiz for how well I understand the characters themselves. “Oh, I thought I was going to be CJ, but I got Sam… Why did I think I was going to get CJ? Assuming the quiz is accurate, what part of the CJ character did I misinterpret? Does my understanding of the character accurately reflect the material’s construction of the character, or did I impose some of my own baggage onto the character (which would change my understanding of the character)?”
    Like undergrad philosophy classes, you pass or fail quizzes because you have an understanding of the material, not because you believe the material accurately depicts reality.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      I’m still not convinced, however, that the quizzes don’t just assign you to a random result. So relying on them to be in accord with “authoritative” definitions of characters—more in accord than your own conceptions of the characters, as if the quizzes and the characters weren’t also man-made, as it were, and just as prone to projection, distortion, and so on as your own subjectivity—seems to me to be an unreliable leap.

      It’s nice, I think, to have an occasion to talk about the West Wing.


      • Dr_Demento #

        This actually seems like an interesting experiment. I mean, you could work from the user end and do an exhaustive mapping of the choices with the results they generate and look for correlations (which, would take awhile, considering there a 6^9 choices for the Captain’s quiz, just a shade over 10 million (Johnathon Archer by the way)). A more interesting way of performing the experiment would be to create a set of quizzes that use various matching techniques (including completely random) and having users rate how well they felt they were matched.

        Other fun variables: Asking the user what character they thought they were beforehand. Asking the user what character they thought they were as the first question in the quiz. Removing the explanatory blurbs. Randomly deciding the character but uniquely generating the explanatory blurbs based off of user response. Providing you a character from a completely different show than what you thought you were being quizzed over.

        Basically, if you could convince a psychology journal that Buzzfeed articles are a valid topic of analysis, you would be set for life.


  4. josie fm #

    Nobody picked the Kanye West mascot bear from his academic trilogy of albums, and that just seemed like a missed opportunity to praise Yeezus.

    more thoughtful comments when I get home from the gym.


  5. Adrian #

    I wonder if Party Pat could be a reference to Perky Pat from Philip K. Dick’s “Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch,” which is also a religiously charged symbol.

    I MUST KNOW which Overthinkingit writer I am. This quiz needs to be a reality.

    (That last Holmes is Jeremy Brett by the way, who is excellent.)

    Here’s a thought about all those irritating click-bait methods and disguised ads. I don’t want the internet to have all its sharp edges shaved off. By that I mean, even if it all looked like the Next Generation Enterprise terminal displays (I got Picard too, BTW), I will still be disappointed if the look and feel of the internet were the same everywhere. It just wouldn’t feel like the multimedia collage cobbled together by a rag-tag bunch of misfits that it is.

    All of those interruptions and attempts to swindle us are indeed terrible, but they are mostly only truly irritating when they’re new. We very quickly learn to identify, navigate and avoid them, just like we instantly know which things that come in our mail can be thrown out unopened. They’ve even done studies: people who have been offered a monetary incentive to find a certain piece of information on a website will look right past it if it is written in big red letters in an eye-catching font–or is otherwise formatted like an ad.

    It’s the badge of an experienced internet user, I guess: you know where all the dragons are, which floor tiles are safe, and what question to ask the guard who only speaks truth and the guard who only lies.


  6. Josie FM #

    I think I took the ASVAB thing too. My school also had a big JROTC program, and I know several of my classmates ended up being sent to Iraq shortly after graduation. I do think it’s a factor of both geography and socio-economic class.

    I kind of hate everything Aaron Sorkin ever did, except The Social Network, and especially loathe The West Wing because it’s just such an obvious wish-fulfillment fantasy for someone whose politics I disagree with. And I’m glad someone brought up LiveJournal, because I remember back when I was a teenager they were a huge part of the culture of LJ when I started. The first round of that died out, IIRC, because a site called Quizilla made it too easy for people to create quizzes without much thought – and the difficulty of posting them to MySpace. But I definitely remember that that early round centered pretty heavily on the world of personal fandom webpages, often created by teenage girls in with pirated copies of Photoshop and self-taught HTML skills. And I do think it’s interesting how much this comes in cycles, like other sorts of fashions, and just how much of the fan culture of LiveJournal 10-15 years ago still survives on Tumblr.

    As for Star Trek, Sisko’s air of crazy is actually what makes him great, and I definitely got Shana’s “In The Pale Moonlight” reference. I think that, while he’s kind of a tragic character, I would rather “be” Elim Garak than any Starfleet captain in an identity-curation sense. Which is probably why I got Janeway on the Buzzfeed quiz.


  7. cat #

    I think those quizzes, or any kind of personality quizzes are appealing for a lot of reasons. We are programmed to take these multiple choice exams in school. These quizzes give you the opportunity to feed that compulsive test-taking drive without the pressure of having to get the right answer. And if you in fact do not get the result you want, you can retake the test as many times as necessary and sort of game the system in a way you can’t with a standardized test in school.

    I think these quizzes also serve some of the same functions as horoscopes. Most people recognize that their astrological sign doesn’t inform their character and shouldn’t inform their behavior but they enjoy reading their horoscopes and taking bits of advice from them. These quizzes can allow you to feel a stronger connection to fictional characters and also give you an identity to perform or reject.

    Going off of Thomas’ point, sometimes I just like to read the little blurbs at the end describing a character or type of yam or whatever the quiz was about. I like see how other people interpret certain characters.


  8. Linnea #

    I’d like to know the title of the book Matt brought up that talked about Myers Briggs.


  9. AndrewB #

    Aw, man. A few years back I had to dig deep because I thought I’d hallucinated ShowBiz pizza from Chuck E. Cheese memories, but they were real.


  10. Connor Moran #

    Sisko is the best. I am clearly not getting Wrather in the What Overthinking.com Writer Are You quiz.


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