BLACK: ’25 Random Things’ not so random after all

 

 

Brigid Black

My fellow Villanovans, it appears that yet another Internet craze has come upon us. No, I’m not talking about the now-extinct online gossip guru JuicyCampus this time around. It isn’t a YouTube clip involving magical pink unicorns with stolen kidneys or Stephen Colbert, either. Those are yesterday’s news.

This latest craze exists on none other than everyone’s favorite social networking Web site and addiction, Facebook.com. Its name: “25 Random Things About Me” (more commonly known in its shortened form as “25 Things”).

So what is this phenomenon, exactly? For starters, “25 Things” is a “note” – Facebook’s answer to a blog entry – that has basically spread like wildfire across cyberspace. It goes like this: the author of the note must list 25 supposedly random facts about himself/herself. Then that person must “tag” 25 other people (or a number close to it, at least) in the note, asking them to do the same thing. Thus, the cycle continues in a whirlwind of perpetual tagging.

Consequently, “25 Things” has been passed on to a huge portion of the Facebook universe. It is perhaps the site’s most popular note of all time – as of last week, over 5 million of them are said to exist. A simple Google search yields a seemingly unending number of hits pertaining to the topic.

Receptions to this latest Facebook frenzy have been mixed. While many Facebookers have embraced the essential idea of “25 Things” and created lists of their own, others fiercely denounce it as an irritating and unoriginal waste of time.

While it’s true that the eight millionth appearance of “[Insert friend’s name here] has mentioned you in his/her note “25 Things About Me'” on one’s profile is a bit much, I found that even I couldn’t resist the overwhelmingly strong currents of this Facebook fad.

After about a week or so of others tagging me left and right, I gave in and formulated my own list.

Then again, why should anyone care that my shoe size is a 10 (No. 9) and that I met Backstreet Boy Nick Carter in 2002 (No. 21)? Am I not being unnecessarily self-indulgent here? Aren’t we all?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, “25 Things” is a kind of socially approved self-indulgence.

Since practically everyone else is being invited to partake in the same process, the list allows a person to be a temporary narcissist without fear of being labeled as one. An activity like “25 Things” can even be looked at as somewhat therapeutic, since it asks us to explore our often under-examined inner selves.

Additionally, perhaps “25 Random Things” isn’t quite as random as we think. Looking past shoes and boy bands, I found that several of my own “things” were of a deeper, more reflective nature. Some facts expressed my feelings towards the past and future, while others revealed what I value most.

I found such sentiments in the notes of others as well. Perhaps it wasn’t that much of a surprise to read that my friends love sushi (No. 6) and are terrified of spiders (No. 12). On the other hand, these same people also wish more women would see themselves to be as beautiful as they really are (No. 21), and feel a personal responsibility to make the world a better place (No. 24).

These are the type of things that we don’t often hear coming directly from our friends’ mouths. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t think about them, or that we ourselves don’t think about them.

The “25 Things” Facebook craze ultimately can be whatever you want to make of it.

You can just shrug it off as something trivial and short-lived, or view it as an opportunity to peel away at an inner layer not often seen by those we know. And peeling away at those layers often permits us to realize previously unseen connections between ourselves.

As a result, we become further linked together as Facebook users and as friends, too – which is exactly what any good social networking Web site should do.

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Brigid Black is a senior English and French major from Brooklyn, N.Y. She can be reached at [email protected]