Would You Like To Take A Survey?

This just in: surveys are dumb.

I've been around long enough now to discover that asking people their opinions in surveys is totally pointless. What led me to post about this today was a recent Reuters article that claimed a survey proved that children prefer fruit to cookies. Yeah, like that's the truth. I've spent my week around elementary school kids who deal candy like dime bags at a Dead concert. This one fifth grader had some stuff I had never seen before called candy spray. It's a little binaca like sprayer with liquid candy that they squirt into their mouths. The kiddies love this stuff. I haven't seen the same reaction when it comes to fruit. I have yet this week to see a kid excitedly shout out to his friend, "Ya want a pear? Oh and don't tell but I have a kiwi in my pocket that I swiped from Kroger. Sure, I could've gotten caught, but it's a kiwi, dude! It rocks!"

They gathered this data by asking kids to chart down what they snacked on. What self-respecting kid is going to rat himself out about bad eating habits. Of course they were going to say fruit was what they wanted. I remember taking those surveys back when I was in school. The teacher would drop the line that "no one will know who filled this out" which was permission to let 'er ride. The older I got, the more ridiculous I found them and then started to put whatever I wanted down on the survey. Why do you think teen sex and drug use are at such high levels? It's because of people like me who never did that stuff but lived vicariously through my survey answers. Am I the only one who, when asked in a high school survey how many times you smoke pot in a week, answered every-stinkin' day? If I actually lived my survey life, I would have starred in the movie Half-Baked. I know, I know, this wasn't an honest answer and I should probably seek forgiveness for my past sins, but who was really honest on those things anyway? That's why these surveys are ridiculous: there's no way to force the truth out of people [without forgoing the warrant and using Chinese water torture, that is].

But now, as an adult, I'm seeing a whole different side of surveys. I'm the webmaster of our church's website. It hadn't been changed in the two years before I got onto staff, so I decided to take it over myself. As interest in the web has steadily increased, people began to investigate the usefulness of our site, so that now there's a committee of people from our church working on it. Sure enough, one of the first things we do is make a survey for people to tell us what we need to do with the site. Encourage people to fill out a survey so the can voice their opinions and they do not disappoint. The problem with surveys for adults is all adults are critics and they'll tell you exactly what's wrong with everything; even stuff you don't want to know. Some people used this website survey to tell about stuff they didn't like about our worship services. And a few of the opinions crossed over in to just plain rudeness. There was biting, unconstructive criticism that was in no way helpful. It effected me a little, because I wouldn't mind having a few words with the people who make such comments, but I've settled down and decided I don't give a rip. They have no idea how things happen, but desire to live the Burger King lifestyle where they can have everything their way.

Which all brings me back to the point that surveys are dumb. The anonymity allowed to people who take them are a detriment to getting at the truth. If you don't have accountability for your statements you'll throw whatever you want out there.

If you truly need to discover the problems plaguing your organization or society [whether bad dietary habits, useless website, or sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll], go out there and find out yourself. Be involved in people's lives in your communities and you'll find out more than a survey could ever tell you.

I'm not sure what all this has to do with fruit and cookies, but I wanted to get those thoughts out there. Just for my own sake, I'm going to take an informal survey this morning among the kiddies to find out what they really snack on.

And after that, I'll never be involved with another survey ever again.