Sunday, September 11, 2005

A GQ survey?

I used to hang up when people called me for surveys, without even trying to determine whether they were legitimate or not. Lately, though, as I've gotten further and further away from mainstream media culture, I've started taking those calls. They're a form of amusement

A few months ago, I spent 20 minutes doing a survey about television preferences and celebrities. The fact that I haven't watched TV in more than two years (except for the announcement of Ratzinger's elevation and an occasional snippet at my folks house or a hotel room or walking through one of the break rooms at my office) made the whole thing amusing to both me and the interviewer. When she mentioned a reality show about "Swapping Wives" or something like that, I stopped the interview and had her explain the concept to me. It wasn't like The Ice Storm, I found out. Ten or fifteen minutes of repeating "never heard of it" was a hoot, and I did my part in making it clear to the data-sifters that they don't have everyone hooked.

Just a few minutes ago, I finished a telephone survey sponsored by GQ magazine:
  • There were some questions about religion ("Would you exaggerate your religious observance to impress a date?" No. I'd probably need to downplay it. "Do you think it's important to practice a specific religion?" Yes. "How often do you attend religious services?" No choice for "more than weekly")
  • A couple of questions about adultery and fornication (Do I think monogamy is important? Yes. Which celebrities (from a list of women I'd mostly never heard of) would I sleep with? None of the above. I could get away with it, would I sleep with a friend, a wife's friend, a stranger? None of the above. If your wife cheated on you would it be ok to cheat on her? No.)
  • Questions about various other sins of impurity (Where do I download my pornography? Nowhere. When was the last time I looked at pornography? That depends on whether the Hall's department store billboard down the street last fall counted as porn. )
  • Questions about who should be in jail, including Michael Jackson and Bernie Evers and some guy named L'il Kim that I'd never heard of. I let them all go free. I wouldn't want any of them decide whether I ought to be in stripes merely because of what they might have seen about me on TV. The Golden Rule principle at work here.
  • Questions about gambling and getting high. I said smoking a doobie wasn't as back as cheating on your wife or falsifying an expense report. When asked about why I have gambled, one of the choices was not "because my Grandmother likes to go," so I had to say "none of the above"
  • There were a couple of questions of "Would you lead a monastic life if . . . " followed by some very un-monastic choices, most of which involved noteworthy exceptions to the vows of poverty or chastity. Fortunately, one of the choices was " if you could still have alcohol," which of course is something that you CAN do in a monastery from time to time. Therefore, I didn't have to pass on that one. Like the long-gone Capuchin Brother Epp on the back of the Free State Brewery T-Shirt everyone in KC has, I thought "Without beer, things do not seem to go as well."

So the question is, what will they do with my data? Should I have participated in an awful magazine's little game? I don't know, but I wish I'd had a speakerphone for my wife so she could have listened, too, because it was the most amusing thing that happened today.

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