Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Facebook's 25 Things Are Alright With This Guy

I'm just going to come out and confess it (ha, like those ridiculously ubiquitous Proactive commercials that start with Jennifer Love Hewitt confessing her "love affair" with acne cream):

I really like the Facebook 25 things phenomenon. I don't think it requires a whole bunch of Stephen Marche-esque cultural analysis. Like, I don't think the phenomenon derives entirely from a narcissistic generation of indoor kids who lack real contact with the outside world and require such a medium to satisfy the Neanderthal desire to talk about themselves.

No. I think that when they're done right the 25 Things notes are funny, enlightening, and nothing close to a waste of time. But the key phrase there is "done right." Nobody wants to read self-congratulatory acceptance speech gobbledygook; nobody cares about the cliched factoids that tell us nothing about yourself or your life; and it's just downright inappropriate to include overly personal information on your sexual drive and bathroom habits.

The key is this: All our Facebook profiles are an exercise in public relations. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all construct a public image of ourselves that leads to opinions and judgments from onlookers. The 25 things phenomenon fits in neatly with this paradigm.

In essence, it's just an extension of the "info" section on our profiles. And that's the whole fun. Don't lie: you loved making a list of favorite movies and favorite TV shows. You loved deciding whether it was ironically funny or potentially immature-seeming that the only book you included was "Everybody Poops."

So go ahead, Facebook. Do what you do. I'll be watching.