Let’s be honest, everyone prefers talking about themselves rather than listening to others. There are really only a few people who actually enjoy listening to other people. At least that’s how I felt until I made a discovery a little while ago.
This discovery is nothing other than “The Book of Questions,” a book that asks a variety of questions that really get the conversation flowing.
It makes you uncomfortable. It makes you wish you didn’t have that weird twitch when you lie. And yes, it makes you want to listen.
It is filled with ridiculous scenarios that leave you no choice but to ask, “You would really eat a bowl of live crickets for $1,000, really?” You start to wonder if your friends are short on cash or common sense.
Not all the questions it poses are that unlikely or intense though; many are easy to relate to on an everyday level and help you dig deeper into your friends’ minds and trains of thought.
The reason it’s so great for getting to know your friends better is because it asks things you would never think of asking — discounting that incident at the sleepover — on your own.
One of the questions that really made people think asked what you valued more: intelligence or beauty? Let me know if you have a quick answer to this one.
It asked: Would you be willing to have a scar across your face, from your eye to your mouth, if it would increase your IQ by 20 points? Not something you really think about when you wake up in the morning.
Clearly, these questions take some thought. Ultimately, most people’s responses were a roll of their eyes, a laugh or an eloquent statement like, “Well if you’re that fucking dumb to want to be so ugly, maybe you need that scar.”
I felt similarly to my poetic friend, though less angry at the world. Even though that question may have been considered pretty drastic, it really did help people see how much beauty is revered in our society.
As a result of playing this with college-aged kids, you come to learn more not only about your own friends but also about the shared ideas and beliefs of our generation.
One of the more surprising reactions I got from my friends was when people had to choose between romantic or familial love.
It posed the possible scenario of finding the love of your life but having to move away with them and never seeing your family again, or to just settle for the next best thing, but remain in close contact with your family.
Interestingly, even though most young adults get so much criticism for being selfish and more focused on themselves than having an interest in family affairs, nearly everyone chose the latter scenario.
Because the ability to get to know people all over the world and across cultural barriers has increased greatly between our parents’ generation and ours, that is not the greatest hurdle in question.
I think the main thing people deal with when they try to answer it is their attachment to their family. I say attachment and not love because I don’t think our love for our family is substantially greater than our parents’ generation, but I do think we are more attached.
We depend on our parents for a lot more at our age than they asked from their parents at theirs. Because we depend on our families for a lot more, logically more interactions take place and a greater connection is formed. It is almost as if material ties — money, housing, food — dissolve into emotional ones.
But what about the other side of the coin? Is this attachment hindering our ability to make other close, long-lasting relationships?
With each question lending itself so naturally to others, I wish you good luck getting past question one. Oh, and also getting past all the weird shit your friends have done.