Yesterday both the New York Times and Time Magazine published articles about the new trend on Facebook of answering silly little quizzes like “25 things you didn’t know about me.”These quizzes have been known for years as “memes.” I’ve done two of the meme’s in here, and if you really want more to do, there has been a website called the Daily Meme for a while now. The New York Times article was a ‘real’ newspaper article, researched, with real information. The Time Magazine article was a whiny diatribe about how “stupid” these things are and how dare they show up on this reporter’s Facebook.
Oh please, grow up.
According to Wikipedia, meme’s in internet culture refer to humor spreading quickly over the internet. For example, the “tell me 25 things about you…” survey that’s been flying around facebook.
These things have been around forever. They were mainly spread by email, but you’d also see them on people’s blogs (LiveJournal, or Xanga, mainly), or .plan files. Sometimes they were fun, sometimes they were dumb, but they always had a serious distribution problem that resulted in most people despising them. They would very easily turn into spam. One person would fill out the quiz, send it to 20 friends. Then that person would reply to all, add another 20 people, and…you get the picture. Those were truly the days of “25 things I didn’t want to know about you.” I didn’t even know you!
If these things are really coming back again (and it certainly seems like they are), Facebook is the perfect space for them, since they are so easy to ignore. Facebook is not like LiveJournal where a long quiz is making your Friends page huge, or like email where one quiz turns into 40 responses from people you don’t even know. On facebook, by default, you will only see the subject line and one or two questions…if that. You’ll also only see those from your friends. There isn’t a gun being held to your head forcing you to read someone’s silly note.
Nobody has to be on Facebook. It’s a choice. If you are there, you have tools to control who and what you see. But at its core, Facebook is about sharing information among friends. Don’t want to share or see information? Don’t be there. And I’m talking to you, Time Magazine reporter. I don’t go to espn.com or foxsports.com and mock what they’re doing. You don’t have to go to facebook.com and spoil our fun.
(On a side note, someone’s gotta get this guy on MyYearbook. I think his head would explode.)
Personally, I am thrilled to see these things flying around Facebook. It means things be a changin, although I couldn’t tell you if it’s for the better or worse. Meme’s never really took over MySpace even though people do them all the time in bulletins. But, meme’s completely changed the culture of LiveJournal and Xanga. Many, many people wrote blogs that were full of nothing but meme’s. Not something I ever wanted to read, sure, but these were people who wouldn’t have been blogging without the memes. These dumb quizzes and surveys increased usage of all of these sites, and that’s ultimately a good thing.
Will Facebook users revolt, or will memes result in people spending even more time on Facebook, viewing even more pages? It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here.