Telling All–or 25 Things–on Facebook

By Pam Robinson

Feb 2, 2009 10:02am

ABC News on Campus Reporter Jason Tarr blogs… Facebook is a cyberworld that many young people often forget is just as public as their real lives.  People post all kinds of personal information on Facebook, like their telephone numbers and street addresses. But in the last couple of weeks, a new craze has taken hold on Facebook that offers more information about people than perhaps we have ever been able to discover on their online profiles.  It’s called “The 25 Things About Me.” The note, which is similar to a chain letter, is spreading around Facebook like wildfire.  It asks you to write 25 random things about yourself that your friends probably don’t know.  There are no questions and it’s not a survey.  Rather it’s a blank canvas for you to be as candid or as guarded as you wish.  Once you have completed this task, it is your job to post your list of 25 to your Facebook page and to “tag” 25 of your friends to do the same.   Being tagged generally means that person is interested in learning more about you too.  I had escaped this note until about 9 a.m. Sunday when one of my friends finally posted her list of 25 secrets and tagged me to do the same.  By 8 p.m. Sunday, I had been tagged seven times. So just what type of information are people sharing?  You might be surprised by the range of personal matters  people are willing to share.  Some of the information my friends have posted is information I probably could have gone without knowing. Some  details are  rather mundane, like “I have an irrational fear of bees!” or “I like horses.”  But other information can be personal, and even, a bit hostile.  For example one person writes, “I actually don’t like 75% of my ‘friends’ on Facebook.”  And another person writes, “I fear my medical history might affect my relationships in the future.” But not everyone on Facebook is caving in and filling out their personal list of 25.  A Facebook group has been created for people who refuse to share 25 things about themselves.  A member of the group writes, “Is there anything more self-absorbed than assuming other people want to know random information about you?” I haven’t decided whether to join the 25 things craze. When I first was tagged, it almost felt like an invasion of privacy. It also seems to hinder face-to-face interaction and deep discussion.  And, that’s a concern many people are raising as they fill out their list of 25. As one person writes, “This whole 25 random things list is stupid because you can easily walk up to me and you’ll get to know exactly who I am and what I stand for.” But for other students, it’s a nonthreatening environment in which they can share information and be almost ensured their friends will return the favor.  Some students even see their list as a personal art form, including pictures and famous quotations to supplement their random thoughts.  In some situations, these lists are even bringing students together. One person commented on a list, “Oh my goodness!!  I learned so much about you!  I didn’t realize we had so much in common.” Whatever your opinion, it’s hard to deny the intrigue, and even people who refuse to post a list of their own tell me they read everyone else’s list because it’s just human curiosity at work.

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