Many of my conversations are attended by a sense that I should care what my fellow conversationalist is saying. The sense may be subtle, but it does not elude me, and I make an effort to roll up my sleeves, grind my molars and offer something like, "And what do you think?"
But then I fall on the floor unconscious. It's too much to keep track of this "give and take," and I'm sure I'm not the only one who lets the blackness drip over the eyes on such occasions. Sure, on paper it may sound like a good idea, but the practical reality of a back-and-forth is one of me getting neglected. Every second spent listening to someone else is a second I could be clarifying a point, or even offering a new and exciting one.
And so it was with great relief that I found Interview.com, a Web site for takers-not-givers. Built on the premise that people are desperate to purge themselves of cumbersome opinions -- opinions on subjects ranging from art to sports to fitness -- the Hamburg, Germany site consists simply of questions, a voting mechanism, running tallies and largely ignored discussion fields.
There is something distinctly American about this German site. Impressively absent of throat-clearing, Interview.com gets to the point: Voting. You vote and vote and vote. What is your favorite muscle to tone/develop? Follow the link to the question of your choosing and click for democracy: Biceps, abs, pectorals, quads or triceps.
Interview.com offers unimpeded democracy. Imagine Election Day every day, an explosion of unchecked boxes and undarkened circles careering off your computer screen with all the urgency of the yet-undetermined. It's a magazine's sidebar poll, minus the magazine.
Best of all, I needn't concern myself with the vote's consequence. Nobody takes office, no proposition gets passed and my attention remains free to turn inward. What do I really think of Sarah Michelle Gellar? Indeed, my sole moral obligation is to satisfactorily represent my own breadth.
Then I get to compare my breadth to other breadths. "When do you water your plants (indoor or outdoor)?" I'm asked in the Recreation section, and I become the 52nd gardener counted when I click "evening." I'm satisfied to learn that I'm in good company, outstripping the early-to-mid-morning waterers by 9.62 percent.
People these days live longer than ever, and risk running out of things to do. Thankfully we have the heroic intervention of a fascinating Web site, fascinating the way a stick or sweat sock is fascinating.
Interview.com invites us to pass our days among survey questions. We can answer as many as we want. We can answer two questions about exercise, then one question about soap operas. We can answer one question about famous tennis players, then go have a sandwich and then come back for a question about Audrey Hepburn.
Do you feel excited? Do you feel like things are going to be different from now on? I ask because I care about your thoughts on Interview.com. I do. And while you're at it, how are you?