the thing about 25 things
Friday, February 6, 2009
Some of us shamelessly embrace this opportunity to reveal little-known facts about ourselves. Others sneer at what this Washington Post writer calls “just another online outbreak of mass self-disclosure and self-importance.”
In this NYT article, editor Telisha Bryan sniffed that she wouldn’t deign to participate.
“ ‘Whatever happened to talking to people face-to-face?” she wrote in an e-mail message. “Since when do we have to give our friends synopses or overviews of our lives? Anyone who wants to know 25 things about me can call me or ask me.’ ”
No, not so much. As another person interviewed from the story pointed out, “I’ve gotten 25 random things notices from people that absolutely fascinated me, but I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t want to be stuck on a bus with them telling me these things.”
Ms. Bryan, the holdout, is the editor of a women’s magazine (a quick Google revealed it to be Cosmo), and the stock-in-trade for women’s mags is TMI and celebrity chatter, so I’m a little confused by her attitude. Why should I consider the details of Jennifer Aniston’s life more relevant than the details of people I actually know? (And yes, I do know the majority of my Facebook friends in some capacity beyond Facebook.)
The NYT writers says, "The idea that real intimacy is achieved by telling 25 people about the first time you saw a horse or the name of your kindergarten boyfriend is, admittedly, worthy of ridicule." But that's so missing the point. Who says this is about intimacy? Totally missing the point, dude. This isn't intimacy, this is entertainment.
People who choose not to participate in things like this do so with a holier-than-you losers attitude, but who cares? I filled out the 25 Random Things and passed it along, and I read other peoples’ and comment on them. Why? Because they’re fun. Lots of fun. They’re fun to write and particularly fun to read.
If I were a smart fiction writer, I would be keeping a file of other people’s 25 Random Things because, you know, you can’t make this stuff up. Each list is full of details that could make a character come alive. (Hm, that would be a cool writing exercise: Take a random 25 Random Things list and invent a character around it.)
I love what my friends choose to write about, love how they choose to write them. Are they one-liners or full paragraphs? Are they boastful or self-deprecating? What do they view as significant moments in their lives, what are they confessing to?
How can anyone find stuff like this uninteresting?
And I hope you're feeling better.
I didn't say I wouldn't "deign" to do it. I don't feel above it in any way. I just said that I don't want to. I just would much rather have dinner with a friend and get into a long discussion about our lives than for her to give me bullet points in advance of things I should know. It kinda takes the fun out of getting to know/catching up with someone, I think. And if the 25 include things that your closest friends don't even know, they're probably too personal for the Internet. I have 300 Facebook friends. They all don't need to know what scares me late at night.
Glad to read your differing opinion. Take care!
I love those long intimate dinners with friends, too. I just think it's apples and oranges. To me, those 25 things are just incredibly entertaining snippets, tiny character studies. So far I haven't seen anything that has made me recoil with the horror of TMI--although I eventually grew exhausted reading everyone's 25 things.
Of course, we're all figuring out what to reveal and conceal in this new virtual world. It's like being an old-time burlesque queen--reveal enough to be tantalizing but don't give it all away.
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