The Collegian
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Anonymous humor and gossip Web sites gain popularity

The recent demise of JuicyCampus.com has brought increased attention to other community-driven Web sites - such as FMyLife.com and KissAndDish.com - where people can anonymously post about hookups, embarrassing incidents, relational mishaps and more.

Unlike JuicyCampus, both FMyLife and KissAndDish are open to more than just the college population.

FMyLife provides a venue for users to post short, one- to two-sentence anecdotes about something bad that happened to them that day. The phonetic pronunciation of the Web address represents the site's official name: F*** My Life - My life sucks but I don't give a f***. Each post starts with "Today" and ends with "FML" in reference to the site's name.

Originally, the site started as an Internet Relay Chat amongst a group of friends in France. As it gained popularity, it became a blog, then a Web site, viedemerde.fr.

Alan Holding, a member of the FML Team, said the way the Web site had taken off had made the team realize that an international version would have potential. The international version of the site, in English, now gets more than 640,000 hits per day.

"The motivation for starting such a version," he said, "was based on the idea that the same shit happens to people all over the world, and the way the Web site has taken off over the last couple of months is proving that the theory was right."

Judging from the comments left by visitors, Holding said it was obvious that people all over the world could relate to each story.

"It's quite amazing to see people from India, for example, commenting on stories from the USA, saying in substance, 'That happened to me too!'" he said.

Holding said that, because the concept behind the site was a universal one, not much explanation was needed.

"We started out basically through word of mouth," he said. "There's hardly any need for advertising."

Because the site covers a wider audience than JuicyCampus did, legal ramifications are not an issue, Holding said. Users generate all of the content for the site, and the FML team focuses on upkeep.

"Stories are submitted by anyone who feels the need to tell the whole world about a crappy event in their life," Holding said. The site receives more than 800 anecdotes a day, which the team sifts through and chooses 25 to 30 to post per day.

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"They have to be funny and/or self-deprecating," he said. "Those are the stories we and the users want to read."

Holding said he thought the site appealed to people because it gave them the chance to tell their stories to a large audience, and the inherent humor provided a chance for visitors to laugh about stuff that had happened to them. At the bottom of each post, users have the option of commenting on the post, with a chance to vote, "I agree, your life is f***ed," or ,"You deserved that one."

"It can be quite cathartic to muster up the courage to send in something really embarrassing that happened to you," he said. "Especially seeing as there's people waiting to vote on whether you deserved it or not, and can comment on your failure."

University of Richmond freshman Pete Minassian said he went to FMyLife at least twice each week, but rarely went to JuicyCampus. He has never posted on the site, but goes to it for its humor.

"I think that FMyLife is the funniest site I have been to in a while," Minassian said. "It is merely the humor that is involved in the stories, plus, there is really no evidence of anyone trying to attack or gossip about other people."

Minassian said he thought that JuicyCampus should have been shut down, because there was not a need for it.

Kristen Ricordati, co-creator of KissAndDish, shared a similar perspective. "[JuicyCampus] was horrible, mean and spiteful," she said. "We're not about calling people a whore or bitch."

Instead of a place to spread rumors, Ricordati said she had designed KissAndDish as a site that would be helpful to people. A recent college graduate, Ricordati, 25, works in media and said she had the idea for the site a few months ago as a fun project. The Web site launched Feb. 11, just in time for Valentine's Day.

KissAndDish focuses on the relational side of life, highlighting the highs and lows of love, dating and sex. According to the Web site, it is "the online equivalent of a brunch with the girls and beers with the boys." It covers everything from bad dates, embarrassing pickup lines, finding and losing love and hilarious hookups.

"In college we sat around talking about love and sex and hookups," she said. "People love secrets about sex and relationships."

The site combines a user-driven atmosphere with substantial content. During the building process, Ricordati sought out 14 writers for the site who would produce new content every day. Each writer is on a schedule, with two postings every day so that the site is always updated. Ricordati said she tried to find people from a variety of backgrounds across the country and in various stages of relationships.

"If you don't want to write, you can be a fly on the wall," she said.

Ricordati recruited her college friend and one-time boyfriend, Daniel Kiepfer, to help her launch the site. She described them as yin and yang, where she focuses on the creative side of the site and he handles the business end. The two talked about the design of the site, but hired it out for production.

The pair dated for a few months in college and remained good friends.

"It is a true testament that you can stay friends," Ricordati said. And although the two have not seen each other in five years, they have created the site through a lot of e-mails and phone calls.

If someone does post any full names or personal information, they are able to take it down, Ricordati said.

"People can feel very alone when going through a hard time," she said, adding that she hoped the Web site would help people share their stories and know that others felt the same way.

Often times, Ricordati said she got questions about why she started a relationship-help site since she has been married for almost two years.

"I am married now," she said, "but there were those moments when I was single that I remember asking myself, 'Am I the only one who doesn't have somebody?'"

She said she wanted the Web site to connect people.

"Everyone is looking for somebody else," she said, whether it be a one-night-stand, companionship or a life-long relationship. "This site is dedicated to that search."

Joann Robinson, a graduate student at Richmond, said she did not use these types of sites, because she was not interested in gossiping about others.

"I think gossip does little to solve anything," she said. "Do you want to be a part of it, or just let others do it? Do you want to stand by idly or do you want to engage in something more productive? Would resolving an issue be more important than spending time talking about people?"

Minassian recently checked out KissAndDish for the first time, and said he found it interesting.

"It is quite funny as well," he said. "I don't know what attracts me to these sites; I guess it could be a way to procrastinate ... Also, as my roommate likes to point out, these sites are sometimes great places to get tips from."

Contact staff writer Jill Cavaliere at

jill.cavaliere@richmond.edu

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