How do you keep track of what page you’re on in a book?
The answer tells you everything you need to know about the moral lens through which you view the world. At least, that’s according to a chart that was widely circulated on Twitter last month (and originally shared on Tumblr). The axes of the nine-square grid—lawful, neutral, chaotic across the top; good, neutral, evil down the side—assign expansive significance to each choice. Using a book ribbon as a bookmark, the chart tells you, is “lawful good.” Scrap paper and receipts are still good, but also chaotic. Using a normal bookmark is “true neutral,” while leaving the book open and upside down is “neutral evil.”
This chart went viral mainly because it prompted debate and defensiveness. How is dog-earing a page more “evil” than marking it with random garbage? How can reading an ebook be considered a “neutral” choice? And that’s just bookmarks. Alignment charts have been used to sort politicians, versions of Windows, and seemingly everything else. They’re tossed around every major social platform, and have become a common cultural reference point. They pop up on Pinterest, in the Alignment Charts subreddit, and in lifestyle publications.
chaotic good and chaotic evil pic.twitter.com/QQM5RGYB4u— m (@wingheadd) February 9, 2020
Truly, it is hard to find a category that the internet hasn't aligned. Alignment charts have covered face-washing techniques, middle-aged working actors, New York City transit options. Avril Lavigne’s white tank top is chaotic neutral. Signifying one’s acknowledgment or acceptance with okay is neutral good, while writing ok then is neutral evil. A moral significance apparently can be gleaned from the way people sit in a chair or cut an apple or drink their coffee or position their bed relative to their bedroom walls. The same goes for how they get rid of earwax, and how they respond to a meeting invitation.