Thursday, June 25, 2009

All the Answers

Just about the time I decided that the Internet, the great technological leap of the late 20th century, was becoming nothing more than a repository for political extremism, pornography and spam, a ray of hope appeared.

Someone, I learned, has actually developed a website that will makeyour decisions for you.

What great news. No more wondering what to wear, what to eat, who to date, what religion to follow, where to vacation. No more wondering what scarymovie to watch, where to live in San Antonio, Texas, how to politely bypass a Greenpeace volunteer.

Hunch.Com will make those decisions for you, leaving lots of time to, well, vegetate I guess.

All you have to do is buy into the concept and your problems are solved.

The idea is novel but the execution is a bit scary. Hunch asks its clients question, hundreds of them, to determine what kind of person you are.

Once they have you figured out, they base their answers to your dilemmas on what they know about you and people like you.

The questions are much like you find on personality tests that employers administer to prospective hires, some obvious in their intent,others less so.

If you saw a guy you thought was a jerk accidently drop a wad of cash on the sidewalk, would you (a) return it (b) think about it or (c)keep it because the guy is a chowderhead.

OK, that goes to character. I get that. But it also asks if I believe aliens live among us, whether I fold my underwear, if I everbroke a bad habit and if I wet my toothbrush before I use it. (For the record, I answered no, sometimes, yes and absolutely).

The scary part: Aside from dispensing advice, what do they do with this information?

The Hunch folks promise they won't sell it to to marketers. But promises get broken. And there are other dark uses for this information.

I'm waiting for the knock on the door some moonless night by government sleuths who will inform me that my "wet toothbrush" answer pegged me as a terrorist.

So despite some misgivings, I decided to give it a try in the interest of journalistic inquiry.

After I asked a few random questions, I was told the following: I am not genius (I've heard that from my wife), I should run for public office (and face a pack of rabid journalists? No thanks) , root for the Denver Broncos or the Washington Redskins (actually, I'm a Pittsburgh Steelers fan), drink Cabarnet Sauvignon (I lean toward Zinfadels), play golf (I do) and live in North Hollywood (settle down in a faceless subway stop? No thanks).

I can't say any of these answers lit the way for me. Maybe something a little more esoteric.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken: "If you want a chicken egg, your best bet is to start with a chicken. If you start with an egg you might end up with a lizard or something."

What gender am I? "You identify more with males. You may been seen as more male or enjoy more activities that are associated with the male gender." (But there was an 18 per cent chance I was female).

What profession is best for me? Interior design (early Ikea is a personal favorite), followed by advertising executive or agent.

Should I become a writer? "Unless you write teen fiction with wizards, wolves, or witches; diet books; exploit the hopes of people of faith; or self-help guides, you're probably not going to have a best seller this decade."
Come to think of it, I think I'll follow the old fashioned method in reaching a decision: Always trust your first instinct.

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