Growing up, whenever a telemarketer would call the house, my father would pick up the phone, listen until he understood the nature of the call, and then unleash all hell on the unlucky soul at the other end. I was never privy to the calls, but I like to think the questions that set him off were as banal as, “Are you interested in X?” or, “Have you ever considered Y?”
Whatever they were, they always threw him into a rage. He would scream into the phone, get flustered, lecture the caller and then slam the handset down on the receiver. Saying “no” wasn’t enough; he had to let them know how much he hated their surveys. It was always a great show.
Sensitive eardrums and fragile cell phones need no longer live in fear – the age of the telemarketer is over. Thanks to digital advancements, telephone intrusion has evolved into browser disruption, taking the form of a popup or survey prompt. Now that he’s retired and spends a lot of time on the computer, I get to see and hear my father lash out at an inanimate object. His frustration hasn’t diminished, despite there being no one on the receiving end. To add more futility to the situation: those surveyors still aren’t getting him to answer the questions they asked in the first place.
Whether in the real or virtual world, when suddenly prompted with a question, it’s our instinct to feel intruded upon and vulnerable. We immediately want to know “Why are you asking?” “Who are you asking for?” “What is this for?” A question out of context feels inorganic and intrusive. Quizzes put these questions into context. When wrapped in a larger, more fun experience, questions become approachable, and, consequently, more answerable.