Subliminal Self-Praise and Manipulating Praise from Others

Personality quizzes like, "What's Your Emotional Type?", "Which Famous Elizabeth Are You?", "What Does Your Eye Color Mean?", "Which State Do You Actually Belong In?" or worse, Christianized versions like, "Which Bible Character Are You?" not only clog many Facebook newsfeeds, but they're also the avenue in which many people subliminally praise themselves and invite others to join in.

One of the biggest problems with these online personality quizzes is that there are a limited number of options of what your personality can be like, and they're largely generic so that your results can be somewhat true about everybody.

"The quizzes are overwhelmingly upbeat and lighthearted in nature, a calculated decision by the people engineering them. After all, they’re designed to be an affirmation of how you see yourself, not an assessment of who you really are." -New York Post

"People love knowing and talking about themselves. It’s social currency. And these quizzes are a great opportunity for people to compare themselves with others." -Jonah Berger (quoted in Mashable's Q: Why Are Quizzes Suddenly So Popular? A: Narcissism)

There was once a time when I took a few of this personality quizzes for the sake of trying to speak the same love language as someone I befriended earlier this year. She often took these quizzes and posted her results on her timeline. In order to love her well, with what I believed at the time, to be harmless, I would take them too, comment on her post with my results, and encourage her where I thought I could. One time, I posted my results from the "Which Bible Character Are You?" on my own timeline, and sadly influenced others to waste their time doing the same. Though I never took the results of these quizzes seriously (or even with a grain of salt), I regret having unwisely led my friends (who trust me) to participate in vain activities, as well as inadvertently fish for compliments from them.

I didn't realize the way I was trying to love my new friend, wasn't loving at all; and was also very unwise. Not knowing her very well, it turned out that my compliments were actually mere flattery because the attributes I affirmed from her quiz results were not true of her character. Thus, I did her great harm rather than good, because instead of being more prayerful and mindful of Proverbs 14:8, "The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving." I hastily contributed to her already prideful and erroneous view of herself.

Learning from this grave mistake, I stopped "liking" and commenting on her quiz posts in order to keep from feeding her pride, hoping that through God's Word, I could truly exhort her in what is true and good. Unfortunately, God's Word is not her favorite thing to use to assess herself so she continued to find her identity in these fabricated, narcissistically-geared quizzes, which sadly encouraged other mutual Christian friends to do the same. That's why these quizzes are so popular—like viruses, they're highly contagious, spread from personal contact, and rapidly infect others with the vanity bug.

I understand why people of this world do this, but I'm completely bewildered as to why Christians do this. People of this world love talking and learning more about themselves, but people of God (should) love talking and learning more about God. Those who do not know Christ, don't genuinely know who they are and need others to tell them. They investigate and determine their identity based on horoscopes, what their family and friends say about them, what magazines and now, social media quizzes say who they are based on their responses to questions about their fickle personal affinities. But for Christians to be just as consumed with these personality quizzes is quite strange. I'm not saying these quizzes can't be silly and fun, they are. But to take and post them often is very odd behavior for anyone who professes to know and be known by God Almighty who readily made available, His Word—the perfect mirror that displays what our hearts truly look like—revealing to us, who we really are.

As children of the Most High God, if we want to know whether or not we love God and others well, if we manage our time well, if we're good stewards of our finances, if we're good spouses/parents/friends or whatever we want to know about ourselves, we ought to look into the perfect mirror of God's holy Word so that we will not only know what our true character strengths are, but also what our sin issues are so that we can repent and die to our sins, and live more fully in Christ.

Here's the bottom line: the goal and pursuits of people of this world is happiness; the goal and pursuits of people of God is holiness. What you pursue reveals which you are...regardless of what those unscientific, geared-to-make-you-feel-good, personality quizzes say.

"One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple."
-Psalm 27:4, ESV