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  • What’s Missing From This List?

    Posted by Shannon Love on September 27th, 2010 (All posts by )

    An online poll is making the rounds.

    How long you will live.
    How much money you will make in your lifetime.
    The NAME of the person best suited to you.
    How happy you will be compared to the average human.
    What profession you will spend most of your life doing.
    Where will you live for most of your life.
    How many children you will have.
    How you will die.

    Professor Bainbridge points out that the site originating the poll seems to be directed at a younger audience and the constraints of the thought experiment make the questions inherently personal.

    Even so, don’t these questions seem tremendously self-centered?

    The first question that popped into my mind was, “How will my children and grandchildren fare?”

    Why aren’t these questions more focused on the fates of people connected to the individual answering the questions? Instead of, “How happy you will be compared to the average human,” why not, “Will I do more good in the world than bad?” Instead of, “The NAME of the person best suited to you,” why not “Will I be a good spouse?” Instead of, “How many children you will have,” why not, “Will I be a good parent?”

    Some questions about the specific fate of the individual would be understandable, but having all of the questions focus on the specific fate of the individual with no thought given to the fate of the people whom the individual will bear at least some responsibility.

    >The results of the poll do not offer much solace either. The only double digit responses are:

    The NAME of the person best suited to you. 35.87% (692 votes)
    How long you will live. 20.48% (395 votes)
    What profession you will spend most of your life doing. 14.88% (287 votes)

    These questions and the answers are all about me, me, me.

    Even taking the youthful demographics into account, I can’t help but think that this poll represents one small piece of a pattern of increasing self-absorption in modern society.

     

    2 Responses to “What’s Missing From This List?”

    1. Mrs. Davis Says:

      When we are born we think of nothing but ourselves. As we approach death, we think much more of those we leave behind. In between religion helps ease the transition. The erosion of religion from our culture has unintended consequences.

    2. Nancy Says:

      What useless questions! How about: What can I do now to increase the future happiness and well-being of my children?