The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

25 Random Things About Me, let's go public!

Whether or not you have been tagged in the "25 Random Things About Me" on Facebook, I would doubt that you would have to look too far to find someone who has. Maybe it's the guy at the computer next to you in the library or the girl washing her hands near you in the bathroom, but whoever it may be, I can be certain they have, in some form or another, been a part of this new phenomenon.

"I just don't understand how you decided why and what private elements of your life should be made public," said Lauren Jennings, a junior who has been tagged a few times in this Facebook note.

"This is private knowledge being given out in a public group. If you want to tell me something, then tell me in person."

Danah Boyd is a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She studies how American youth use public networks for sociable purposes and examines the role that social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook play in everyday teen interactions and social relations.

In an e-mail interview, Boyd said "25 Random Things About Me" is not an application but a meme, or cultural practice, and there is a long history of them on the Internet. In the 1980s, it was common for people to forward messages to everyone that they knew, she said. These took on numerous forms, but often had a threat implied. (e.g. "If you don't forward this to 10 of your closest friends, the person who forwarded this to you will die.")

Another evolution of this were personality tests and other quizzes, Boyd said. These were popular as forwards but grew even more popular on blogs, LiveJournal, MySpace and, eventually, Facebook. This is where a person fills out a quiz of his or her favorite TV shows, whether he or she prefers Pepsi or Coke, when he or she first kissed someone, etc., she said.

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"This is a new iteration of that old practice," Boyd said. "What's unique here is that it's not predominantly being done by the under-18 crowd or even the 18-24 crowd, but the older crowd.

"So folks are abuzz with it because the 50-year-olds are acting like 16-year-olds who first got online. That's what makes it so bloody fascinating."

Junior Nina Malanga said: "I think that it is just a way to make you look quirky. It's kind of stupid, but I can't help but read them."

So here it goes, the inner-workings of "25 Random Things About Me." Step One: Friends send you an e-mail or tag you in a note posted to their Facebook profiles with 25 facts about themselves. Step Two: Once you have been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about yourself.

And finally, Step Three: You choose 25 people to be tagged, and then have to tag the person who tagged you, or as the actual message reads, "If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you."

Sophomore Mallory Coquoz said: "I think it's bizarre, but it's neat because I have learned things about friends that I didn't know. It's just random, and things that were never brought up among our friends; although, I have no idea why it became so popular."

Senior Nate Somayaji said: "I have never really been one to partake in applications as such, but if I have anything to share, it will only be with my close friends. I am not trying to publicize it to the rest of the world."

The New York Times reported that this practice has spread so far and so fast that a Google search for "25 Random Things About Me" provides 35,700 pages of results, and many of the 5 million notes on people's profiles created in the last week are lists of 25 Things.

Yet with the immense amount of fans, no one knows who actually started this application. A copious amount of Facebook groups and pages have been created in regards to this chain-style posting, and each group has thousands of members, the Wall Street Journal reported. Not one of these pages provides any such evidence as to who is the true founder.

"Who has the time to write 25 things about themselves anyway?" said junior Kristin Bushby. "I think these people are just looking for attention or trying to stand out from others on Facebook."

Contact Reporter Sawyer Weirman at sawyer.weirman@richmond.edu

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