Jaime Netzer is a magazine editor and writer in Kansas City. She freelances for Variety in Los Angeles, writes bad poetry in her spare time, and dreams of one day living closer than 1,000 miles to an ocean.
I can’t remember the last time I was interested in an e-mail forward. It’s been since junior high that my peers and I had enough time on our hands to fill out surveys answering questions like “What are you wearing?” and “Rate your Top 5 Crushes.” Then last week an email popped up in my inbox. One of my friends was interested in sharing some facts about herself. And what’s more, when I was done reading them, the idea was for me to share some facts too. I was intrigued.
Facebook’s “25 Random Things About Me” is not your average forward. The concept is simple: Share 25 things about yourself, tag 25 people. Rinse and repeat. But it’s been largely, somewhat inexplicably, popular. According to a recent Time article disparaging the trend—“Why, oh why, would someone dare try to tag me! In a note! On Facebook!”—more than 5 million of these notes sprang up over the past week. And so, as with all Internet trends worth their salt, the backlash has begun.
There are now groups dedicated to bringing about the downfall of 25 Random Things:
+Screw You, I’m not gonna tell you 25 Random things about myself
+Stop Tagging Me in 25 Random Things Posts You Tards
+I’m Tired of Learning 25 Random Things about People
One of my friends went so far as to create a note about how much she was irked by the prevalence of 25 Random Thing notes. Those of my friends who did participate usually included apologies. My friend Natalie got her caveat out of the way early, opting for the self-deprecating title: “25 things you’ve been dying to know about me, me, MEEE!!”
The author of the article in Time laments the utter stupidity of all of the notes she’s been forced to read. But in the 11 (count them!) notes I’ve been tagged in thus far, I’ve found wit, charm, a bit of heartache, and the kind of puzzling-but-sweet details that will undoubtedly take up space in my memory for years. (You mean that girl I went to high school with never wears socks? Ever?!)
It seems a bit rash to write off millions of people jumping at the chance to express themselves in a similar fashion as simply inane or irritating. Doesn’t it have to mean something that we’re all so eager to take our turn at the mic? Perhaps it speaks to just how little we’re talking. Many of the sweetest gems in the lists I’ve encountered read like answers to questions it’s obvious the author hasn’t been asked in a while. “Motherhood is challenging and beautiful. I hope to survive it.” Or, “I am unsatisfied. My body, my jobs, my writing...nothing seems to be the way I want it.” Sure, not everyone is hysterically funny. And some people overshare. But there’s a kind of beauty in the safety of the platform—you can share as much of yourself as you’d like, let your friends know about it, and then leave the stage before anyone has had the chance to boo you.
In an age where our online avatars couldn’t possibly reflect either the monotony of our everyday lives or the depth of our character, perhaps it’s not so bad to espouse and absorb a few little idiosyncrasies via Facebook. Now, for my list. #1: I wrote a piece about 25 Random Things before I wrote my own 25 Random Things…
25 Things About Jaime Netzer