Duffer... Wait! Don’t hit that delete button yet

Rod Perry
March 14, 2019
By Rod Perry
Remember the good old days before the Internet when snail mail was the norm? There was that feeling of excitement when physically opening an envelope bearing your name, except when it was a bill. If the envelope provided little or no clue as to the sender, that sense of mystery added to the thrill of thumbing open the seal.

Even the junk mail we received in the form of advertising flyers, solicitations for magazine subscriptions and messages from local politicians were occasionally fun to peruse before we’d toss them into our recycling boxes.

Of course there’s still lots of that stuff circulating about, but much of what used to be placed in an actual mailbox has given way to the more cost-efficient method of email. That hasn’t stopped the flow of junk mail, though. It’s simply packaged differently and it’s much greater in volume. It usually takes a few minutes each morning to sift through my email, reading and/or responding to the legitimate mail and deleting the rest.

Sometimes, though, there’s that odd piece of mail that catches your eye and you just can’t bring yourself to hit the “delete” key – at least not immediately. One of these pieces of correspondence I receive daily that has succeeded in luring me in almost everyday is something called the Quora Digest. This bit of unsolicited mail – I don’t remember having signed up for it – is a series of questions and answers about everyday things. Topics include everything from politics, entertainment, geography, sports and a slew of other subject matter.

It seems people in the know will write in to offer their best answers to questions that we might have on our minds each day. Sometimes the questions are downright goofy, such as “Could Thor beat Superman in a fight?” Often, though, a question might ask what types of perks commercial airline pilots receive, or embarrassing moments a patient has experienced when undergoing a medical examination, or perhaps which characters will survive and which ones will die in the final season of Game of Thrones.

Most of us can relate to one or more of these types of questions, and so we’re drawn in to read these emails, robbing us of five to 10 minutes of our daily lives. The questions that have the most allure for me, however, are those that compare the American way of life versus that of the Canadian way of life, or ones that compare Donald Trump’s politics with those of Justin Trudeau’s. It’s these types of questions that seem to dominate the list of queries in the Quora Digest. Consequently, I just assumed these emails were Canadian in origin.

Through a little investigation, I learned the Quora Digest was an American invention based in California that was founded by some of those who helped to get Facebook up and running.

What mainly led me to believe this was a Canadian missive was that most of the responses to the questions comparing Canada to the United States were pro-Canadian. American responders were suggesting the quality of life is better in Canada and that we have our priorities right.

Many of the questions posed in these emails are ones that we’ve perhaps always wondered about, yet never had the nerve to ask for fear of embarrassing ourselves. They include:
  • Why doesn’t Canada become the 51st state of the U.S.A.?
  • Why is the U.S.-Canada border so strict?
  • Why don’t famous Canadians speak with a Canadian accent?
  • Is Justin Trudeau turning Canada into a joke internationally?
  • Was Trump right when he called the Canadian health system “catastrophic?”
It’s questions like these and the answers provided that make the Quora Digest so much fun to read. With answers coming from both Canadians and Americans, there is an interesting mix of opinion.

So, based on the variety of topics that form the core of these questions and the intelligence level of the questions themselves, what can we say about ourselves?

Canadians know more about the United States than Americans know about Canada. Haven’t we known this all along?

We need to get a life. All these questions about comic book superheroes and fantasy television shows suggest these are our primary sources of entertainment and culture. Maybe we’re just a country of closeted nerds.

Although we present ourselves as being prim and proper, we secretly enjoy the occasional naughty tidbit. There is usually at least one question that pushes the envelope to present something that stirs our libido.

In the end, this Quora Digest is merely another piece of junk mail that’s a little more difficult to delete than others. It has a mesmerizing allure that prevents an immediate push of the delete button.

You’re thinking, “I guess I’ll take a quick peek at this particular question and the answer that is provided.” And then you say, “Well, this next question looks interesting. Maybe one more.” Finally, after a few more “one mores,” you’re able to bring yourself to push the delete button. You’ve wasted 10 or so minutes of your day, but then you do it all over again the next day when the next Quora Digest arrives in your mailbox.

This never happened with snail mail.

Rod Perry, aka Duffer, is a Niagara-based freelance writer.

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