There are many students here who, next Monday, will be able to spend the day or the night with someone they care about deeply. These people are lucky. The rest of us will spend St. Valentine’s Day doing something that doesn’t involve roses, relationships, or romance. Everyone knows that it’s tough to find someone on campus, aside from interactions preceded by copious amounts of alcohol. Sure, it’s not a real holiday, and yes, it’s even more enjoyable for those selling gifts than those receiving them, but spending February 14 watching others having a special day can leave you crying on the mantle at Cottage. And that’s no fun. Trust me.
Apparently, the USG has noticed that much of its constituency isn’t overjoyed at the prospect of V-Day’s coming and going without anyone to celebrate it with. During reading period, while we all spent our time trying to avoid distractions, the classes of ’07 and ’08 provided us with an enticing one: the chance that Valentine’s Day might turn out to be something to anticipate instead of dread. Single Princeton students could go to a booth on the first floor of Frist, lay down two dollars, and fill out a thirty-question survey. In a few weeks, the participants would receive a list of their most “compatible” matches. I couldn’t take the test too seriously seriously—one question asks whether you’d prefer your match to walk around naked or in polo shirts—but as I was filling it out I couldn’t help but think that hey, maybe something will happen. I didn’t want to allow myself to lend the questions any sort of credibility, but I held onto a little hope that I might find a match made in Internet heaven.
But even though the compatibility results have yet to be posted, a closer inspection of iFlurtz doesn’t leave me that optimistic. If you go to iFlurtz.com (made infinitely cooler by the rad spelling), the first thing you see the site’s boating that it is “the #1 compatibility fundraiser for high schools.” Now, perhaps I was hiding in a cave during high school, but I really didn’t know there was a lot of competition for this title. Good for them, though. Hopefully the iFlurtz fundraiser will amass enough cash to raise the bar for ’07 and ’08 study breaks and class gear offerings; the freshmen and sophomores class presidents will start promoting class-insignia-ed X-Boxes instead of sweatshirts.
The site also says the test was “99.99%” designed by students. Which they must think is cute or something. But they would say 100 percent if there weren’t some adults involved who stood to profit from these inane tests. The abundance of pink and red, and questions more idiotic than anything in Cosmo Girl obscures the real goal of the organization, which is to swindle two bucks out of a few thousand single students.
Indeed, though the USG might reap some monetary benefits from its participation in iFlurtz, the quiz ultimately fails in its stated goal: to bring compatible students together. The quiz is too imprecise to make anything but oddball matches. Taking objectivity out of simple questions like preferred height (a question that always makes me sigh) in the name of humor (one of the height options is “telephone pole.” Yes, telephone poles are tall, but that doesn’t make it funny) may well end up bringing together two nudists who hate each others’ taste in literature. Or something like that.
Now, in other cases, subjectivity is impossible to avoid, as in describing the better parts of your personality. But, when asked what your one and only best attribute is, you either end up short-changing or misrepresenting yourself. If you say your best quality is your “wacky sense of humor,” then you’re “funny,” and you’re not attractive, or athletic, or even quick-witted. And the next question is the most infuriating of them all. That would be, “How would you rate your modesty?” First of all, if you’re not a modest person, then the choices c and d (“Who needs modesty when you’re this hot?” and “I am king of the world! Bow before me!”) are equally conceited, making it a tough choice. If you are a modest person, then sitting around rating your modesty isn’t something you usually spend your time doing. Worst of all, and this is true throughout the test, if you’re a wise-ass like me, you can’t answer sarcastically, because then you’ll end up with someone who’s your diametrical opposite. Yes, opposites attract, perhaps, but I don’t really feel like dating a 7’4” Republican with no sense of humor.
Forcing us to choose one answer to questions that are fairly open-ended is the test’s major flaw. Even though there are 30 questions, the nature of the test can be summed up by number 10 and its potential answers. This would be the question that plainly asks you to “Pick a match, any match (but just one).” Among the choices are: “the hot one,” “the creative one,” “the ingenious one,” and so on. We’re forced, as we are throughout the test’s other questions, to turn our potential object of affection into a one-dimensional caricature. For some people, this is okay. Maybe these shallow people ought to be brought together, so they can stay away from the rest of us. If satisfying the vapid was the real goal of iFlurtz and the students who organized the test, then more power to ‘em.
The iFlurtz company makes money from Princeton, and the class governments of ‘07 and ‘08 make a profit as well, while we get vagueness and screwy matches. It’s not wrong to charge us to take the test, because yeah, people and organizations need to make money. But by structuring the test in the way that they did, iFlurtz virtually ensures that this Valentine’s Day will bear an unhappy resemblance to all the others that have come before it. iFlurtz is the “#1 Compatibility Fundraiser,” yes. But I’m willing to place a mighty wager on the fact that the high ranking has a lot more to do with fundraising than student satisfaction.
But what else can one expect from a multiple-choice test with questions about what the rearview mirror is for? (It’s totally for hanging fuzzy dice, by the way, even though I don’t have a car.) It’s pure silliness, designed to distract you from the money you’re paying and arouse the faintest bit of hope about the upcoming holiday. And they swindled me. Swindled me good. Even so, like I said, they really could make the test better for those who take it, but I’m not so sure this worries them. Because, in life, it’s all about the bottom line, not about making one-time customers happy. By restricting us from really explaining what we want, limiting us to convoluted and goofy answers, and making money off of it at the same time, it’s clear that they really could care less how our Valentine’s Day turns out. Oh well. There’s always the mantle at Cottage. (Sigh…)