Know Thyself ??
There are three things extremely hard: steel, diamond and to know one’s self – Benjamin Franklin
The maxim Know Thyself was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and has been widely quoted … with a variety of meanings … by philosophers. According to Wikipedia, it can be seen as a warning against false pride, against boasting beyond what you actually are or it can be a warning not to pay attention to the opinion of others. It can be read as a prescription for true humility, knowing your true place in the universe, by knowing both your strengths and weaknesses. It can be a warning against hubris, against overbearing pride and comparing oneself to God. Regardless of how it’s interpreted, I suspect most would agree with Ben Franklin … it’s hard to achieve. It’s the reason we have aisles of self-help books in Barnes and Noble and the reason we have therapists and philosopher. It’s the reason religions offer opportunities (sometimes taken) for introspection and why 12-Step programs offer searching and fearless moral inventories (sometimes taken). Until now, anyway.
Lately I’ve noticed an increasing number of Facebook friends taking online quizzes that offer to help you Know Thyself. One asks what is your most dominant character trait? My Facebook friend got Generosity. Nice, right? Another asks What 4-letter word best describes you? a question that would seem to offer interesting possibilities. My friend got Love. Who are you when no one’s looking? My friend got Humane. How about What are your three best qualities? Another friend got Positive, charming and enjoyable. One quiz even asks What animal would you be? Another friend got Beaver. Interesting. Do you notice a pattern? Either I have the cream of humanity as Facebook friends or these quizzes only yield positive qualities (after all, even a beaver can be interpreted as busy). So, I went off to Facebook and tried taking a few of these quizzes, wondering if I could answer the questions in a way that could yield Jerk. Or Selfish, arrogant and annoying. Or even Snake. Of course, the quizzes are rigged … there aren’t any negative answers. They never offer I like to talk behind others backs as a hobby or shoplifting as a favorite activity.
Yes, you are right. No one is really trying to Know Thyself by taking Facebook quizzes. Still, why, if you enjoy taking online tests, wouldn’t you take one that has a chance of really telling you something about yourself, like the Psych Central Personality Test or the Briggs-Meyers Test? What’s that? You might find something you don’t like, and that’s not fun, it’s, as Benjamin said, extremely hard? Facebook is supposed to be fun? I take things too seriously? You may be right. Or perhaps, this was just an opportunity for a curmudgeonly post. I’m betting on the latter.
Have a great Sunday.