What are the origins of Facebook's "25 Random Things About Me" phenomenon?

Inside the Internet.
Feb. 6 2009 11:55 AM

The 10 Things We Want To Know About "25 Random Things About Me"

A Slate reader survey: What are the origins of the Facebook phenomenon?

25 Random Things About Me.

In the past few weeks, a chain letter called "25 Random Things About Me" has wormed its way through Facebook at an alarming speed. The exhibitionistic format has remained surprisingly intact: In addition to rattling off 25 facts about themselves, "Random Things" authors are supposed to tag 25 of their Facebook friends, prompting them to write their own note and tag 25 more people, and so forth and so on.

Whatever your take is on the content of these notes, they do present a fascinating case study in how trends spread online. As USA Today noted Thursday, it's difficult for Facebook to measure the trend precisely because the letters are written using the generic Notes application, which can be used for any type of message. But a representative for the site did tell the newspaper that use of the Notes app has more than doubled in the past week.

Advertisement

In an attempt to get a handle on how the "25 Random Things About Me" phenomenon began and spread, Slate is running a simple survey for Facebook users. If you have written such a letter or noticed that any of your Facebook friends have, please take a second to answer the following questions, using the news feeds on your profile to determine when you were first swept up in this trend.

First, click on Notes in the Applications sidebar to the right of Facebook's front page. (You might need to click on "more" under Applications to reveal the Notes icon or to add the Notes application.) This will give you a list of every note your friends have written. We're interested in the earliest instance of a "25 Things" list.

Once you're done with that, click on the Profile tab at the top of the screen. That will display a list of items that just pertain to you. Here, you can track instances of other people tagging you in their notes.

We're also interested in gleaning information on how the "25 Things" chain began. If you're the man or woman behind the idea or just have a theory you want to share, we'd love to hear from you. Please write down everything you know in the box below or send us an e-mail directly. All information you submit via this Web form is anonymous and will be used only in aggregate. If you choose to send us an e-mail, it may be quoted by name unless you stipulate otherwise.

This contest is now closed.

`

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

Move Aside, Oxford Comma, the New Battle Is Over Single or Double Quotes

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Ben Bradlee’s Fascinating Relationship With JFK

Culturebox

The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid in some kind of store.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 11:06 AM The Right to Run If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 10:37 AM Judge Upholds Puerto Rico’s Gay Marriage Ban in a Comically Inane Opinion
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 22 2014 11:04 AM Do All U.S. Presidents Look the Same? What About Japan’s Prime Ministers?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 22 2014 10:29 AM Apple TV Could Still Work Here’s how Apple can fix its living-room product.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 22 2014 11:30 AM Where Does Ebola Hide? My nerve-wracking research with shrieking bats.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.