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Why Facebook's '25 Random Things' is so popular

As if you needed another reason to waste time on Facebook.

With Facebook's "25 Random Things" feature, you post a note with 25 quirky facts about yourself then send them off to a couple dozen friends who are expected to pass it on in the same manner.

In just a few short weeks, it may very well have become the most popular feature in the history of social networking.

We've seen similar devices on Facebook and via email over the years. However none has developed the intense following of "25 Random Things."

("I have an irrational fear of lakes" and "I schedule my life around Gopher hockey games" are just a sampling of some of the "25 things" people post.)

MSNBC, The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal have all given the feature plenty of well-deserved analysis. But I think they miss the core reason that this feature is so pervasive –I t's the same reason Facebook is so successful.

It gives people the opportunity to boast about themselves without appearing boastful.


Despite the title, these facts are not random. They are chosen carefully to shape a user's online personality. Facebook users are skillfully marketing themselves to their network of friends. (Disclosure: I am just as guilty of this as the next Facebooker, although I  haven't filled out a "25 Things" list...yet).

This truth is not lost on some astute Minnesota bloggers. Many in the last week tried to score points with readers by moving their "25 Things" out of the secure world of Facebook and onto their public blogs.

The most clever came from Kelly at Wonderment. She posted 25 correlating pictures and asked her readers to try and guess her items.

Cheap But Not Easy took the anti-"25 Things" approach by blogging about why she won't be participating.

An Amber-Colored Life, Baron Dave, Chocolate Mussolini  and Conner also attached themselves to the phenomenon. 

Highlights and lowlights:
• Washington, D.C., blogger Shelly T. West makes a strong case for why Minneapolis is a "great frickin' city" that people should visit.

• South metro blogger Bill Roehl asks his readers to chime in on their favorite Twin Cities grocery store.

Erik Hare does a nice feature on why the number of coffee shops in St. Paul has exploded over the last few years.

Stella Borealis takes a detailed look at the work of the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson while he worked in Winona.

• Jess at I Was Told There Would Be Bacon relays a conversation she overheard in a public restroom this week.

• On the subject of restrooms, Reetsyburger takes her camera where no man has gone before — inside the ladies room  at Goby's bar in St. Paul.

Worth reading:
How about a beer? It's hard to miss with an opener like that.

Likewise, it would be tough to start a blog on the topic of barley pop and not get people to at least check you out.

So consider it a bonus that the MNBeer regularly provides useful snippets of information on the beer culture in Minnesota, with a special eye towards local brews and brew pubs.

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Comments (3)

For what it's worth, bloggers were doing 100 things posts back in, like, 2002-ish. So this is not new, it's just that it's hit Facebook now.

Back in 1950's junior high school, lists like "25 Random Things" floated around classrooms on folded pieces of paper. Same purpose: create your brand identity.

I still haven't done that 25 things about me, yet.

I guess I'm not gonna. But maybe.

But probably not. I missed the boat. It would be so passe, as well as who cares?