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Scarvey column: In defense of Facebook’s 25 Random Things

If you’re a part of the Facebook juggernaut ó and lately, who isn’t? ó it’s hard not to notice the spate of “25 Random Things About Me” postings that are sprouting like mushrooms on the social networking site.
It works this way: If you’re tagged in someone else’s 25 Random Things posting, you are supposed to join the fun by sharing 25 bits of information about yourself, then tagging friends and inviting them to do likewise. It’s like getting assigned homework by your friends.
Some commentators are suggesting that far too much information ó either overly personal or simply banal ó is being disgorged, and that ridiculous amounts of time are being wasted.
A Time magazine columnist submitted her own list with a twist: “25 things I didn’t want to know about you,” which included morsels like: “I once sent a teacher into early retirement by pretending to be a cheetah and swiping at her from under a desk.”
But hold on. If I had a friend who could state that as fact, I’d get a kick out of hearing it.
It’s true that much of what people post isn’t that clever or enlightening ó but a lot of it is fascinating.
Aren’t most of us curious about the lives of others? With our close friends, of course, telling facts emerge over time. Facebook provides a convenient shortcut.
Now, we don’t have to seek out tasty tidbits ó they’re hurled at us electronically. When I have time, I happily gobble them up and sometimes even consume those of people I don’t know. I suspect I’m not alone in this.
I love the glimpses into people’s quirky lives. I can’t resist learning things like the following:
Brian used to be an Eagle Scout and cuts his own hair.
Sarah got fired as a motel maid at the Black Bear Motel in Boone.
“I guess I’m not motel maid material,” she wrote.
Robert worked two summers in a cotton mill when he was in high school.
Gail has written for the National Enquirer.
Sam got rolled by a group of Mongolian thugs in a train in St. Petersburg while a cop stood by, smiling.
As I was writing this column ó using my Facebook page as a research tool ó Michelle posted her list, as if on cue. She was a Jehovah’s witness as a child, although her family bent the rules. When she was 5, a couple from their church knocked on their door, and her dad grabbed the Christmas tree by the trunk and ran down the hall to hide it in his room.
I get a huge kick out of imagining this, and when newspapers have gone the way of the phone booth and I am trying to distract myself from staring into the abyss of unemployment, I plan to use that scene in a novel. The girl will be Wanda and not Michelle. She will fall in love with a boy who works in a cotton mill, and in order to save money for their wedding, she will clean motel rooms in the mountains, until she is fired by her unappreciative boss.
So please, Facebook friends, don’t stop posting random facts. My novel needs you.
Contact Katie Scarvey at kscarvey@salisburypost. com.

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