I am pretty sure this is going to mean I will have to completely trash what I have of "Focal Point" and just rewrite the whole thing, but I was very excited about it and just wanted to share with you all!
The idea came to me as I was taking the "20 Questions" Buzzfeed quiz and not only did I find the actual choices I was given totally not reflective of my personal, individual style at all, but the result was as far from the "real me" as a computer-generated algorithm could get!
I began thinking.... "What if..."
What if in this future society, these personality quizzes become integral to social structure and function? What if the shallow, materialistic society has been so devoted to this trend for so long that companies will actually come to use them for marketing? Certain results would dictate everything from the clothes you wore, where you shopped, and what you ate, to the groups you hung out with, the activities you did, and--in the case of the excessively suggestible--most of your life decisions, like who to marry or what job you would have.
Since there are also androids and serving machines to do things for people, perhaps the results could also affect the way the machines treat you, highlighting the impersonality and fallacy of trying to reduce human interaction to a computer algorithm.
This is the society Vanessa (Esther) would live in. She would see everyone else using the quizzes to make decisions, and that just seemed like the easiest way. And her father Michael (Mordechai) would allow that, because in living by the results of these quizzes, Vanessa would achieve the "mainstreaming" that would allow her to blend in with the society, and not attract any attention for being "strange."
President Xavier (King Xerxes) would also be using the data acquired by these tests to choose his "personal secretary" after he fires the one he had. Only girls who fit a certain profile would be considered.
During the "selection process", Xavier's own results would be published for all the girls to see. Those who wanted to please him more would likely skew their own results in an attempt to get the same results and appear compatible. (There have been a few quizzes where I may have deliberately chosen certain items because I knew and preferred the results it would give...) Of course, as the "competition" gets more rigorous, the quizzes get more personal and more detailed, so the "fakes" are weeded out.
But why would a large corporation suddenly start using something so frivolous as "Which Fictional Character Should You Be?" or "What Color is Your Aura?"
That question was answered when I was filling out an application for a retail job. (Yes, I'm in the market again... I've cornered a part-time job, now looking for full-time!)
It hit me: job applications use personality quizzes. So what if, back a few decades before Vanessa's time, Daniel Princeton (which means tweaking "Professional Integrity", too; but I was stumped on that one anyway, this could be a good thing!) started working in the personnel department of this big corporation, and he began seeing that the company regularly hired on a "fill the empty spots" basis, and not really paying attention to individual prowess. It was Daniel who then might have started the trend of giving out personality quizzes to ascertain the specific strengths of an employee, so that they could be shifted to a position where these strengths were most beneficial to the company. This would cause the company to flourish, and Daniel would be rewarded and revered for his wisdom.
As the years go by, though, the tests are increasingly misused and warped, and the results published and stigmas and labels assigned, allowing people to form cliques based on their results, and ranking results according to "coolness" factor, so that by the time of Vanessa's arrival, there are certain stereotypes attached to some of her results that make her rejected by a lot of the other girls before they actually interact with her. Then, too, the more frivolous tests are added (beyond Daniel's supervision) in an attempt to be "more comprehensive."
Of course I can't do anything about it right now, swamped as I am... but this will certainly help out when I can go back and start writing the series again!