Is Facebook’s “25 Random Things” the Latest Incarnation of the Chain-letter?
On the terrible morning of the 9/11 attacks, the news crawls related pieces of the grave news all day; until someone decided to put in the crawl the following words: ”Beyonce no longer likes the word Bootylicious”, right next to news of how people were trapped in the burning buildings. The world has been moving towards context-free, reason-free information for a decade now: sound bites, news crawls – all trailers of parts of the world of news you will never see – served up predigested. And now, this: Facebook’s 25 Random Things. It goes like this: your Facebook friends will send you an e-mail of 25 obscure, maddeningly irrelevant facts about themselves. They’ll say things like how “ I watched the 17th episode of Friends 700 times”, or “I taped back my eyelids and tried staring at the sun three hours straight in the middle of summer”. What’s more, they’ll show you how to do much the same yourself, and will encourage you to compile a list of 25 banalities to send to 25 other people. No one really knows what will come of this, but this has to be the latest in the chain-letter concept that refuses to die.
This then, is how Internet bandwidth is used; just try this if you will: search for “Facebook’s 25 Random Things” on a search engine; your trouble will reward you with tens of thousands of such lists, all cleverly brought together by Facebook – they’re the ones who embrace this the most enthusiastically. Facebook’s reasoning is that such an exercise helps you contemplate the meaning of your existence. The Random Things meme is certainly sweeping the Internet up ; there were 5 million notes created last week for Random Things compilations. Facebook admits that this is a kind of record in note making. The whole “Random Things” concept has been around ever since the dawn of email: the 100 questions fad. Some things just never die.