Too Much Free Time

by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
chain letters, memes


'25 Things' Meme Shows People, Press Never Tire of Chain Letters

from the i-still-don't-care-how-craaaaaaazy-you-were-in-college dept

You've probably heard of this "25 Random Things About Me" note craze that's going around Facebook: somebody writes a note containing 25 facts about themselves, then tags 25 people who are supposed to do the same. It's pretty much the same as any other similar chain letter-type of thing that's bounced around the internet since the heydays of AOL and Prodigy, except perhaps for the fact that it doesn't ask you to send a sick kid a postcard at the end. It's hard to decide what's more striking about the craze: people's continued fascination with this sort of thing and their willingness to participate, or the media's obsession with them. It's hard to tell just how many people have taken part on Facebook thus far, but traffic to the site's Notes is four times higher than usual, according to one estimate, with 28 percent of Facebook's US users checking out a note at some point in January. As for the media, check out the "mystery" over who originated the 25 Things meme (short answer: nobody has any idea). Maybe the most interesting thing here is how the 25 Things meme plays into the ideal of social currency. For some people, they see the list as a way to enhance their social currency within a community by sharing info that will make others view them more positively. But then there's those of us who have been "tagged" 50 times already, and see any more tags as a way for people to devalue their social currency even further.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    I dont think so suze

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 11th, 2009 @ 6:07pm


    This is like complaining about forum games (which I am admittedly guilty of.) People will amuse themselves in surprising ways. You don't have to participate. End of line.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 6:36pm

    Of Course

    Rather, I think it's just further proof that in general, a person's favorite topic of conversation is his- or herself. It really doesn't take much of a nudge, in-person or online to get that monologue started.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Married to a Nerd, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 7:03pm


    Believe it or not, you're not completely right, Anonymous Coward. Sure their will always be a braindead element that follows along some misguided attempt to belong to their sense of "what's gong on". But in this particular case, the 25 things you mention, is actually a way for some people connecting on FB to get to know each other better in a fairly "safe" way. You provide only the info you want to, so you're not marching out the skeletons in the closet unless you want to. Do people lie, well I am sure they do. However, more times than not I see them revealing nuggets of their true themselves.

    Many of the IT folk I know prefer bashing on their fav blogs to show their true colors. There are lots of other people who are using this more direct, and perhaps honest approach. And it isn't because they are prompted, its because it is painless and seems to work well depending on how you use FB.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Dan, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 7:30pm

    Huh. Believe it or not, I just got tagged in my 25th one of those just the other day.

    I still won't make one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    paul, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 7:40pm

    Facebook user Carolyn Tillie said it best when she wrote on the wall for the Facebook group “I Refuse to Complete the 25 Random Things List:” “I have way more than 25 random things and most of them are extremely interesting and juicy. My close friends know some of them and the joy of our growing friendships is discovering what those random things are in each other — as part of building our friendships; not putting them out to the rest of the universe. Trust me, I am an intensely fascinating person and the 25 random things YOU discover by getting to know ME will be far more interesting than just reading a banal list that I put together.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    V. Malin, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 9:42pm


    Seriously? The "intensely fascinating" Carolyn Tillie got so upset that people were sharing 25 interesting things about them with her that she joined a group denouncing their interesting-ness? What a B!

    It looks to be her only group not dedicated to food, or making jewelery that looks like food.

    Way to overreact to an icebreaker! It's just supposed to be something to get people to post so you can reply and connect with that person. "You hate mustard? No way, mustard is great!" or "I love beagles too!"

    Heaven forfend an icebreaker exist on a social networking site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:13am

    I didnt even want to know 1 random thing about you

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jim, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Not so hard to figure out.

    People like talking about themselves. It's why I fell for this meme.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Stephen, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    25 Things

    You want to find the creator quickly? Announce a book deal with the idea at its center, say 25 Random Things about Historical Figures, and I guarantee the creator will be writing the publisher's lawyers in a heartbeat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    SeHablaEspol, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:04pm

    Linus Torvald's 25

    Linus gives the best response I've heard about, in his blog:

    I won't quote it--you have to see it in context.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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