ASK ME ASK ME ASK ME by Patrick Potter (Carpet Bombing Culture, 2017)

ask meI have no idea how this little gem of a book got to be stocked at the shop of Bologna’s Museum of Modern Art but I’m grateful for some employee’s initiative and vision.

Its subtitle is ‘Random questions for awesome conversations’ and that, together with some lively graphics, is exactly what you get.

The content recognizes the sad truism that the human race is rapidly losing the art of conversation. It promotes the notion that asking and answering questions is a step towards reviving this vital social skill.

The zombie-like addiction to screens of all shapes and sizes means that we risk forgetting the pleasures and perils of ‘real’ human interaction. Left unchecked, this will leave us increasingly technologically connected and physically isolated.

The lively sets of questions in this pocket-sized primer offer a stress-free antidote to this problem. It is probably aimed at the Young Adult market but it has many applications for all ages.

One of the key goals is to gently wean readers from a digital dependency and will be invaluable for folks who only tend to ask questions like ‘Have you got an iPhone charger?’

The introductory section suggests 18 questions to establish just how lost you are in Cyberspace. My favorite of these is: ‘Have you ever watched a video of somebody else playing a computer game?’

The book is divided into four sections which can be dipped into in any order.

‘Fun Facts’ are dominated by a series of either/or questions e.g. sunrise or sunset, head or heart. There are also variations of conventional enquiries, for instance ‘Who is your oldest friend?’ is followed up by asking ‘Who is your oddest friend?’ . In one batch of posers you have to answer each question with a bare-faced lie and in another you have to avoid answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This is tricky when you are asked something like ‘What does N-O spell?’

puppies‘Chat Show’ questions require a little more thought but you are advised against skipping any of these with the warning that ‘Every time you dodge a question, a puppy gets sick!’

Rapid Fire /Random Questions are for those who might be tempted to think too much – spontaneity is the watch word here.

Show Stoppers and Toast Droppers are ideal if you are romantically inclined (‘Who should I ride off into the sunset with?’) or are simply weary of small talk.

The possibilities are endless and all the questions could/should be tweaked to include some ideas of your own.

All in all it helps verify the universal truth that life is better when you ask more questions and, of course, can be further improved if you actually listen to the answers.

It’s called conversation!