Suzanne Tobias

June 18, 2014

What kind of columnist are you? I’m a sarcastic one

In my past life, I was a wolf.

In my past life, I was a wolf.

My hippie name is Tree.

If I were a Muppet, I’d be the Swedish Chef. If I were a dog, I’d be a pug. If I had to choose a faction from “Divergent,” I would be in Amity, the one dedicated to peacefulness, kindness, friendship and forgiveness.

And if I were a classic novel, I’d be “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

“No matter how old you get,” the online oracle tells me, “inside you’ll always be a young adventurer, wishing to set sail to some faraway place. With a penchant for sticking up for what’s right, you can’t keep your mouth shut when you witness injustices.”

This valuable peek into my innermost soul comes, of course, from the ever-popular online quiz.

Quizzes, particularly the ones at, have become some of the most widely shared content online, as frequent peeks at your Facebook feed no doubt have shown you:

How sarcastic are you?

What state do you actually belong in?

Which national park should you visit this summer?

How many famous tourist attractions have you seen?

Which ’90s game show are you?

They’re impossible to resist. (My answers: “You’re really sarcastic,” Virginia, the Grand Canyon, 13 and “Singled Out.”)

When I saw one titled “What Type of Parent Are You?” a couple weeks ago, I clicked over to it, ready once again for some accurate, unbiased insight.

I scanned the questions and clicked the appropriate boxes. And I marveled again at how an algorithm can take random information, like my appreciation for “Ocean’s Eleven,” Atticus Finch and ironic T-shirts, and magically pinpoint my parenting style.

“Effortlessly cool,” it told me.

Of course. I nodded smugly.

“Congratulations!” The result box practically fist-bumped me. “You make parenting seem totally awesome instead of a series of dirty diapers, tantrums, and PTA meetings.”

The accompanying image showed actor and supermodel Taye Diggs clutching his adorable son, Walker. Diggs is wearing a lavender T-shirt, hip shades and a newsboy cap. He’s glancing casually at the paparazzi. He looks relaxed, glamorous, effortlessly cool. Yup, just like me, I thought.

As always, the quiz asked if I’d like to share my results via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. Posting it on social media might sound a little braggy, I thought, so I clicked the e-mail link and addressed a message to my teenage daughter.

“See? I’m cool!!” I typed on the line above the link to the quiz. “Don’t even try to tell me I’m not. The Internet doesn’t lie.”

I briefly debated the two exclamation points but opted to send it anyway, because effortlessly cool parents shouldn’t doubt their punctuation.

I’m sure Hannah will read the analysis and wonder, like me, how online quizzes can pinpoint people’s true selves so precisely. She’ll probably nod when she sees it and share it with her friends, boasting about how cool I am – effortlessly cool – not at all like those neurotic or smothering or super-strict moms. I bet she’ll post it on Facebook for everyone to see.

I haven’t heard back yet, no doubt because she’s playing it cool. Like mother, like daughter.

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