If you have a Facebook account, you have undoubtedly read a few of your friends’ notes entitled something like “25 Things About Me” or “25 Random Facts You May Not Know About Me.” According to this article in yesterday’s New York Times, the “25 Things” list is all the rage, a craze:
Sarah Morgan will defend New Jersey passionately to anyone who will listen (No. 3). Max Evjen belonged to the high school band Little Blue Fuzzy Things (No. 18). Jim Beaver has lived through two typhoons (No. 22).
Do these oddball facts look familiar? If not, you clearly haven’t been spending much time online lately, where the latest digital fad — a chain-letter-cum-literary exercise called “25 Random Things About Me” — is threatening to consume what little remaining free time and privacy we have.
Here’s how it works: friends send you an e-mail message (or, on Facebook, “tag” you in a note posted to their profile) with 25 heartfelt observations about themselves — like “I named my son after a man I’ve never met” or “I once paid good money to see Whitesnake in concert” — along with instructions for you to follow suit. You are then expected to gin up your own clever list and foist it upon 25 people, including the friend who asked for it in the first place.
Unlike the chain letters of yesteryear, no money changes hands and no one is threatened with apocalyptic bad luck for refusing to comply. Yet the practice has spread so far and so fast that a Google search for “25 Random Things About Me” yields 35,700 pages of results, almost all of which seem to have been created in the last two weeks.
“It’s really interesting to sit there and try to think of 25 things that you’re willing to tell other people but that they don’t already know about you,” said Ms. Morgan, a health care industry publicist who has kissed 6 1/2 boys (No. 16), is legally blind (No. 19) and didn’t go to school until the fourth grade (No. 7).
Making a list such as this is a really simple activity, really. In fact, if one is able to separate the really personal and intimate details about oneself from the mix, there are hundreds or thousands of fascinating bits of minutiae that can populate a “25 Things” list many times over. Thing is, the little details of lives are the most fascinating, especially when tossed together in small bundles randomly. This, to me, is what makes this Facebook exercise so intriguing: who we are isn’t best described by a 25-line credo, but by a hastily-constructed collage of snapshots.
At least, that’s what I was thinking when I wrote my list.