The Possible Origin of those Fun Online Surveys

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We sit online and when we get bored or sometimes want to have fun, we fill out those surveys that ask all about ourselves or about our friends. We either e-mail them to our friends or post them as MySpace bulletins or in our online journals. They seem to be a
part of online culture that will not go away.

Some of the surveys are totally silly asking things like our favorite television shows to the last time we took a shower.

Other surveys are more serious asking us our favorite color, things we love the most, most feared thing, what we look for in friends and mates, and other questions completely relevant to anyone’s life.

It seems that these surveys just started with the creation of e-mail. After all, as we grew up, we didn’t fill out these surveys other than the occasional school assignment. Many times these went along with the “Where do you see yourself in x amount of years” questions.

The thing is that these surveys didn’t just originate with e-mail. These surveys existed in the 1800s if not even earlier.

The most famous version is probably known as the Proust Questionnaire. In Marcel Proust’s childhood and young adult days, filling out these surveys was seen as a form of a party game.

Proust did not invent the game, but he is often regarded as the most extraordinary person to respond to them as he was seen as a genius.

Vanity Fair thought the idea of including a questionnaire at the end of each issue was a great idea. However, the magazine editors did not want it to seem too trite. Because of this, they always asked a celebrity a series of questions from what was known as the Proust Questionnaire.

The two questionnaires that were answered by Proust show many things about his personality – and what changed between the seven (7) years he answered them. He answered the first at age 13 at one social event. When he was 20, he was at another social event and asked to fill out another version of the questionnaire.

So, the surveys will fill out today started out many years earlier than computers or typewriters were even invented.

We never know what we may be answering or revealing to others. Our answers will surely change over the years as well. A teenager filling out these surveys today may be one of the next great minds. Perhaps these online surveys have more to them than many people think.


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