Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You

December 23, 2010 / Psychology / 6 Comments

It’s been a long time since I devoured a book in one sitting. The book is Sam Gosling’s Snoop. He talked about how our music playlists, our rooms, our office cubicles and even how our demeanor can inadvertently reveal things about our true selves.

I was so inspired by it I self-snooped. And here are 3 of my deductions — do share yours in the comments or in a blog entry (do link back to this entry, so I can I read them)!

Snoop #1: What My Music Playlist Says About Me

Gosling says we can infer personality traits from the music we listen to. You’d might imagine someone who loves religious music as someone pious, perhaps conscientious and not very open to new experiences. I find this snoop a little devious because you may fall prey to false stereotyping, if you don’t dig deep enough. Here’s my deduction of my own playlist as an example.

Top 25 Songs on iTunes

My Top 25 Songs on iTunes

From this playlist, you might deduce that I love anime music. Before you accuse me of being a socially eccentric, cosplaying otaku, let me explain my listening habits. While it’s true I love anime, I don’t enjoy anime music all that much. Consider this: I only listen to music via iTunes when I blog. Music with prominent vocals or noisy electric guitars interfere with my thinking. In contrast, music from the ARIA anime is very soothing so it inspires me to write.

Top 15 Artists on Last.FM

Top 15 Artists on Last FM

My Top 15 Artists list from Last.FM is a more accurate depiction of my music preferences because it’s sortable by time frame. My music tastes have changed over the years. When I was younger, I loved Korean pop music. Now that I’m older, I’m much more into Kubota Toshinobu’s music (genre: soul) and other soothing genres like R&B, Jazz and Bossa Nova.

Gosling points out that people who listen to jazz are generally calm and collected. While that is true of me most of the time, notice that there are 2 anomalies — Lee Hyolee and 2NE1. Both are remnants of my favorite genre during my teenage years. That should point out that I’m not yet 100% calm and collected. Occasionally, I’m still susceptible to reverting to my younger, boisterous, not-so-calm self.

Snoop #2: What My Office Cubicle Says About Me

My company culture is fairly conservative and our office design is one that’s very open. Everything – including the number of shoes under the table – is viewable on plain sight. As you can expect, there’s not much decor going on around. With that said, my cubicle is more barren than the others.

I have no photos of my friends or family, no memento or souvenir on my table. Gosling talks about how employees who are disconnected or disengaged from their work have less personal belongings in their cubicle. While that may be true for some people, I just prefer to separate my work from my personal life. I also avoid revealing too much of myself. See Snoop #3 for reason.

However, I do have three personal items displayed on an inconspicuous corner on my whiteboard. Two of them are postcards — one of a cute cat in a beret, another with a colorful abstract design. At first glance, one might think I like cats and colorful postcards. While that’s also true, there are deeper reasons to why I displayed them. When you flip the back of the postcards, you’d see that they both have personalized messages. The one with the cat is from a very, very close friend from university. The colorful one was from the customer service personnel who decided to accompany the item I ordered online from Swedish retailer, DesignTorget with a hand-written postcard saying “Hello from Sweden :) “. The postcards remind me of the value friendship and reaching out to strangers. Not coincidentally, both of which I wish I could have more.

The 3rd item is a photo of my project team along with Singapore’s Prime Minister and my company’s CEO. This one’s a no-brainer. It just means I’m ambitious.

Snoop #3: What My Wallpapers Say About Me

Gosling also dabbles a little into what our blogs, Facebook profiles and usernames reveal about us. Personally, I think there is an even better way to snoop online — by ransacking people’s Google Search history. But good luck getting your hands on that… hahaha.

For me though, I think the single most telling item of my core being is my desktop / mobile phone wallpaper. I’m sure most of my observant friends have noticed various artwork displayed on my personal electronic devices. They are all paintings from Audrey Kawasaki. I haven’t fully figured out why I am enchanted by them but they give a vague inkling that no matter where I am and what I am doing, a part of me will never change. This is my favorite painting:

Hundred Demon Night Parade
My favorite piece from Audrey Kawasaki
百鬼夜行 – Hyakki Yakou – Hundred Demon Night Parade

Most my friends comment on how haunting and creepy these paintings are.

Perhaps that is reason why that I don’t display these paintings on my work-related devices and why I endeavor to show as little of myself as possible. The core of my being might just be too haunting and creepy for people to handle — a stark contrast to my nanyate self — the perpetually shining, affable, easygoing optimist.

What most don’t understand is that both sides are equally me.

For one to embody the light, one must know darkness.


  • Phei Yee

    I love your last sentence!!!
    True, There’s only one photo of a mountain road in Spain… To remind myself of the world outside my cubicles… I think I’m somewhat detached- lol
    My music: Jazz/tango music/bossa nova… Calmer? Quite calm la…

  • http://silvercpu.com/blog Lissy

    You’re very different from me. I have my entire childhood bedroom in my office, lol. I didn’t know what else to do with the stuff and everyone loves coming in and looking at the toys. I don’t know if it makes me look immature, but I think all programmers have their quirks, so being immature doesn’t necessarily make me a bad employee. I want people to see me as fun and friendly. You don’t fire someone you really like. Plus I love showing off my Mickeys :) I’m getting the computer engineer barbie for christmas to add to my collection.
    I guess my music collection of Disney songs and showtunes says pretty much the same thing about me…
    My wallpaper: Pictures from trips to Disney, parties with my friends, my puppies, my family.
    I’m an open book. Nothing deep here. 😀

  • http://hwsoh.blogspot.com Soh Hong Wei

    Nice post!

    Merry Christmas! =)

  • http://www.idleglory.com Eliz

    Merry Christmas!! * 😀

  • metwin1

    Hey Ivy!

    Hello! Nice post. :) Would love to self-snoop and share too, in longish and more detailed blog entry like yours. But having not read the book I’m not sure how informative it’ll be, especially since the revelation is supposed to be inadvertent.

    For example, my desk is a mess, things all over the place, papers in piles. So that shows people… that I’m messy and disorganised? Well, duh? What’s so inadvertent about that? Music… a lot of classical music and Broadway stuff, and some times jazz… I don’t know what that says about me. If I were to guess, I’d say that the classical music tells people I’m pretentious, the show tunes tell people…er… that I enjoy live theatre? Is that too literal? As for jazz… wow… I like jazz and I’m not calm and collected. Certainly I think I’m easily excitable… people around me keep telling me to relax. HM loves jazz too, I won’t say that she’s calm and collected either. 😛

  • http://lifeasrose.ca Rose

    I like this idea for a blog entry! (and your taste in music is SO so different from mine :P)