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Freethinking Me

Thursday, October 31, 2013

BY NOW, most of you on Facebook probably know the Giraffe joke (which isn't really about a giraffe). For those who don't have Facebook or rarely check their accounts, let me explain. A few days ago, a message went across the social media site saying:

Try the great giraffe challenge! The deal is I give you a riddle. You get it right, you get to keep your profile picture, get it wrong and you change your profile picture to a giraffe for the next 3 days!

Here is the riddle: It's 3 a.m., the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors! It's your parents and they're here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open?

If you get it right, I'll post your name here. If not, you have to change your profile pic to a giraffe!

Since it was a lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to give it a go. When I thought I had discovered the trick, I answered, "The door."

"You're wrong," replied my friend. "The correct answer is 'eyes.' Change your profile pic to a giraffe."

Now many people accepted that answer and probably thought, "Yes, that's right because, when you wake up, you open your eyes first." They then replaced their profile pictures and for the past few days, we have seen giraffes multiplying on Facebook like a zombie infestation right in time for Halloween.

But the answer did not sit well with me.

I re-read the riddle and stuck to my answer. The correct answer is "door" and I'll show you why.

First, there is the matter of chronology. At the time the question was asked, you had already woken up and you already knew that the visitors were your parents. It would not be possible for you to know all that before you had woken up and opened your eyes. The most logical assumption is that you had asked who it was and they had answered behind the closed front door. So your eyes should have already been open at the time the question was asked.

Second is the matter of tense. The question "What is the first thing you open?" is in the present tense, implying that at this moment that you are already awake and know that it is your parents who have rung the doorbell, what is the first thing you open? Certainly, not your eyes because they should be open by now (even if they are only groggily half-open).

If the question were phrased this way, "What was the first thing you opened?" then "eyes" would be an acceptable answer. But this was not the case.

That is why my conclusion is that the given answer is wrong, or that the riddle was poorly written and constructed.

Now, some people might say I'm over-reacting to this, or that I'm over-thinking this and I should just be a good sport and have fun. Well, I probably am over-thinking this, but that's the thing. I AM having fun when I analyze and write about even senseless jokes like this, because I believe in extracting lessons from everything, even in things that do not appeal to us.

I have fun when I teach people how to think better. I have fun when I show people a different point of view -- even if they don't agree with me.

So you can have your fun and your giraffes. I'll keep my face.

*****

Andy Uyboco is a businessman by profession and an educator by obsession. Send comments and questions to andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 01, 2013.

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