Like 7 jillion other people, I was tagged in a FaceBook Note, 25 Little Known But Deeply Fascinating Things About Me (I’m Sure You’ll Agree). Actually it’s 25 Random Things About Me, but I preferred the hypothetical Dr. Seuss title.
The deal is, someone coughs up 25 random things in a note, tags you, and you’re supposed to turn your head and cough in kind. I never did, as I am somewhat feckless when it comes to perpetuating chain mail (maybe that’s random fact #1?).
As most internet-sentient beings know, the meme took off, and in the space of a week, I’ve read plenty such Notes. Some good, some so-so, some with really surprising Little Known But Deeply Fascinating Things … I’m serious, there were. But many were deeply forgettable. Such is the way with random, I guess.
Then the electro-journosphere got involved. First, Slate.com wanted to know The 10 Things We Want To Know About “25 Random Things About Me” … a survey with questions about when did you first get tagged, how many friends do you have, did you post one, etc. They’re being the social-scientist-historians, wondering where did it all begin?
Then the New York Times’ The Lede blog ran 25 Random Tips for the Busy Facebook User, which offered the “formula for the perfect list, which we offer in the interest of – well, which we offer, anyway, in case someone wants to read it.” They’re the self-improvement gurus, instructing you on how to do it better. What’s next, “25 Random Ways to Get a Job by Writing a Facebook 25 Random Things List”?
And while we’re on the subject: The formula for the perfect list? It’s a list of random things … you know, random, as in, lacking any definite plan or order or purpose?
Well not completely random, I’m sure. After all, most people aren’t going to include 25 things that make them look like jerks. Nor, if they are clever about it, will they try to make themselves look like heroes (thus in the process, looking like jerks). And they’ll probably try to make it half interesting, instead of some of the stuff I’m tempted to throw in.
(Annoyed at the eczema on my hand … the six-pack of white socks I bought a few years ago are all disintegrating at the same time, i.e., now … I really should be paying better attention to my finances instead of trying to drum up 25 bits of nonsense about me I think people might not be bored by … etc.)
But still, the very notion of a list of tips about making a list of random things is just … dumb. A sample of their advice:
6. Cite mean nickname you were given as a child.
7. Follow with offhand mention of receipt of high professional honor or athletic or artistic achievement.
The NY Times has many a good blog (Paul Krugman, Freakonomics when Hamermesh isn’t being stupid on it, Paper Cuts, Green Inc.), but sometimes the Gray Lady should skip the pop-culture fluff and stick to being the paper of record.
Then Time magazine got involved. Now usually, when Time spots a “trend,” it’s a sure-fire sign that the trend is so old it’s about to die.
But in this case, Time did it right. And you can tell they take the right approach early on, when they trot out their snarky little calculator for this estimate:
An estimated 5 million of these notes — that’s 125 million facts — have appeared on the website within the past week. Assuming it takes someone 10 minutes to come up with their list, this recent bout of viral narcissism has sent roughly 800,000 hours of worktime productivity down the drain.
Its piece, 25 Things I Didn’t Want to Know About You, used the brilliant Abe Lincoln approach (give a man enough rope to hang himself). How?
Below are 25 facts I wish people hadn’t told me about themselves. They come from friends, friends-of-friends, friends-of-friends-of-friends and coworkers. They are all real, though I wish some of them were not.
Ah yes, simply quote the snivering masses. That ought to do the trick:
4. I have been pooped on by a monkey.
5. I am addicted to the ass-slap dance move. Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m doing it.
Yep. It did. ‘Nuff said.