What kind of peanut butter do you prefer? It sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it? While brainstorming topics I could add to my burgeoning social media presence, the subject of peanut butter came up. The innocuous question filled me with rage.

Let me back up. The twenty-first century is amazing. We have tiny communicators/calculators/music players that fit in the palm of our hands. I can navigate to anywhere in the country without ever having to ask for directions. If I want to make an obscure recipe, I don’t have to make my friends to check their grandmother’s cookbook. I can flip through sixteen different versions in seconds. The level of technology that exists at our fingertips is phenomenal.

But with the privilege of the internet comes the necessity of an online presence. Social media has infiltrated all our lives. For many, there isn’t an option to abstain. This isn’t what made me angry. I don’t like that I have to be on social media, but that isn’t a reflection on the platforms themselves. I just don’t like being told what to do.

No. What irritates me is far more grating than any website with profile pictures. Internet and its mistress, Social Media, spawned a despicable, delinquent child. I speak, of course, about personality tests.

Blech. Even the name sounds stupid.

Over the centuries, there have been hundreds of tests intended to reveal a person’s character. Some, like phrenology, are memorable only for their ridiculous claim of scientific reasoning. The first psychometric test was used in 1919 to screen for the susceptibility of shell shock in military recruits. Personality tests have been growing and changing ever since.

Along with funny cat videos, the rise of the internet also allowed personality tests to morph into a Frankenstein-esque monster. Many jobs require applicants to take a particular test before interviewing in person. Self-help books line the library shelves with buzzwords like ‘introvert’ and ‘intuitive.’ All that would be bearable, but then social media got its smelly foot into the middle of it.

While they were originally intended to perform a useful function, now there is a personality test for every occasion. The Meyer-Briggs is the most ubiquitous, but there are also dozens of matrix type tests. When I was an education major in college, I took a course on classroom management that focused almost entirely on the Colors test. While the professor was engaging, I found it to be a massive waste of time. It’s possible my hatred for these tests first emerged in that classroom, but I like to think I would’ve always despised them.

Personality tests can be useful. I’m not so appalled by the concept that I can’t see their virtues. Certain tests, like the ones measuring the big five personality traits, are extremely helpful in the psychology field. Statistics also show that personality tests can help employers find job candidates most likely to fit the culture of their workplace.

Some authors advocate for the use of these tests while writing. Essentially, the author takes a personality test in the mindset of a particular character. They then use the results to explore the character’s personality. This can help a character to feel more fleshed out. Personally, I’ve never done this. I never start writing until I know my character forwards and backwards. For stories that are more event-driven than character-driven, I can see how this technique might be useful.

In other words, personality tests have a long, fruitful history. They can be beneficial in a number of industries, and are worth a look if you’re trying to alleviate ten minutes of boredom. So, what makes them so terrible?

Social media. Social media makes them bad.

The duo who created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test spent years fine-tuning the questionnaire. The tests used to reveal the presence of big five characteristics are continually refined. These tests are tools, and their creation reflects that.

The popularization of these tools has led to copycats. Many of these copycats are inaccurate and overly simplistic. These tests spawned even more twisted clones. Everyone seems to want to know which celebrity shares their personality types. Worst of all, are the ten-question quizzes that claim to reveal your spiritual Hollywood twin. I don’t care that people enjoy these tests, but I’m irritated it’s so difficult to get away from the bombardment of pseudo-scientific nonsense.

To get back to the original question, peanut butter is a circumstantial ingredient. Rarely do I bake with chunky peanut butter. It throws off the consistency. Smooth peanut butter is fairly easy material to throw in cookies, brownies, frozen custards, and cakes. If the peanut butter in question is going to be spread on apple slices, all bets are off. I will have strong opinions on whatever peanut butter I have available, but I won’t know them until I’m holding the apple slice in my hand. On occasion, I will even change my mind from slice to slice. To baby my mercurial mouth, I prefer to keep both in the pantry. This probably says more about me than my Myers Brigg results.

Author: Louise Rainey

Louise Rainey is an author and apocalypse enthusiast. Although she primarily writes in the fantasy and science fiction genres, she’s been preparing for a myriad of untimely disasters since childhood. It’s possible she might’ve read a few too many survivalist books at an impressionable age. Regardless, she’s ready to rock n’ roll at the first sign of zombies, and a Yellowstone eruption will never take her by surprise. When she’s not preparing for the demise of her Texas home, she’s baking, listening to the same song on repeat, or playing with her gorgeous cat, Robin and her monster-dog Percy.

Louise has a degree in psychology and neuroscience and an unofficial doctorate in Random Ridiculous Knowledge. As a child, she won several writing contests, and she’s been trying to top her blue ribbon at the state fair ever since. Her latest published books include Benevolent Keepers and The Frog Eater.


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