Goof that I am, I joined one of those social network Websites, Face Space or something, thinking it might help me get a little speaking or entertaining business.
What I have gotten instead are surveys, lots and lots of surveys. And I use the term loosely. Most surveys in which I've participated in the past had some sort of point-usually for marketing purposes. They wanted to know what sort of dishwasher you have, which political candidate you prefer, or how often you visit Clown Burger.
(Answers: Broken, None Of Your Business and Never If I Can Help It.)
These social network site surveys are different. They're just a bunch of dumb questions, strung together to ... well, I'm not sure what the intent might be.
Then again, I'm pretty sure I'm not the intended audience. Let me cite the first question from a recent one:
"Do you sleep in your bra?"
I'm pretty sure I got that survey by mistake. Actually, I'm pretty sure I get ALL of them by mistake, based on the questions, some of which I haven't seen since we were passing notes in study hall, back in the seventh grade.
Note to youngsters: This was in the days before cell phones and text messages, when we actually had to write our silly questions on paper-Longhand! In ink!-and hand them to each other. In person. Or at least by surrogate, which is how I came to find out that Helen Gregory had a crush on me back at Leland Junior High ("Thinning The Herd Through Dodgeball Since 1953.").
Back to the survey questions. Like I said, I'm pretty sure these weren't written with a 52-year-old man in mind:
How old do you want to be when you have kids?
Do you like someone right now?
Does your crush like you back?
Do you act differently around the person you like?
OK, the good thing about this survey is that you can answer all the questions-if you so choose-with the same phrase: "Oh, please."
The bad thing is you can see it was put together by the same people who slipped you a note in the hallway that said "Do you like Helen Gregory? Check here if Yes. Check here if no." That is, seventh graders. The giveaway is the word "like." People stop using the word "like" to mean romantic inclination once they've reached a certain level of maturity. Around the second semester of eighth grade.
Now, I did get one survey that was kind of interesting because the respondent was asked to choose between two not-very-tantalizing prospects. In other words, it was a lot like the surveys you get after the parties nominate their presidential candidates.
Would you rather be poor but happy or rich and unhappy? Extremely obese or have rotten teeth? Smart and ugly or skinny and stupid? Bad breath or stinky armpits? Gas or overactive bladder?
Once again, the answer comes back: "Oh please."
In addition to surveys, my social network offers bulletins, which used to mean "short items of importance" and now means:
"PLEASE DONT READ THIS You will get kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life tomorow will be the best day of your life however if you don't post this comment to 3 videos you will die within 2 days. Now UV started read"
Which arrived just after:
"PLEASE DON'T READ THIS you will die in seven days if you don't post this comment on 10 videos in the next hour. if you do, tomorrow will be the best day of your life If you do not copy and paste this onto 10 videos your mom will die in 4 hours"
Oh, well. At least social networking proves that Frank Zappa was right when he said life was just high school with longer hallways. Or, with the Internet, junior high.
Check here if yes.
Check here if no.
Redmond is an author, columnist and speaker, and a consultant on business writing and workplace issues. His column appears monthly. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.