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viral narcissism, infantile regression or just good clean fun?

February 25, 2009

Has anyone else noticed the abundance of note games that have been popping up like crazy on facebook? It all started with the popular 25 things about me note, the facebook phenomenon that that had an estimated of 5 million posted within the first week. Now 25 things is old news. I can no longer log on to stalk my friends without being hit with a new note asking me to share 100 secrets with the social networking world. The newest note – The Album Fandango. Follow three instructions to create your own band name and album cover. Others include things like Alphabet soup (personality breakdown by letter), 15 odd things about me, What my itunes says about me, The Firsts, Finish this sentence, One word answers…and I’m sure these are only the tip of the iceberg.

While I’m all for time-wasting, I have yet to partake in this fun. I’ve been very tempted. They remind me of the games I used to play with girlfriends in grade-school – things like Mad Libs and Mash or Cash, and passing of notes in the hallways about boys, favorite colors and best friends. Although I’m not a noter yet, many of my mature colleagues and friends are partaking in this new form of facebooking.

What is inspiring this new use of the social network channel? What emotion or need drives a busy professional to take the time to write out 50 things about themselves (or to read 50 things about their friend from summer camp 10 years ago?) A Time magazine contributor has called it viral narcissism. Oxford University director of pharmacology, Susan Greenfield, recently released a statement that said that social networks in general are “infantilizing our brains into the state of small children who need constant reassurance that they exist.” Perhaps these notes are tangible evidence that she is right? We are in a way confirming our existence by cataloging our personality traits and giving them a reason for being through a posted or passed note? Or is this just good clean fun, a new way to pass the time on a slow afternoon, or to give your brain a break when work starts to hurt?  

I am in no way dissing my note passing friends. Now that I’ve started to explore the cause, I am sure to be the biggest partaker of them all. Here is my first attempt – the Album Fandango. I’m not quite sure how this represents me (i’m not bad ass enough to have that cool of an album name ) but I do like the picture.

Album Fandango















I know you are now dying to make your own – so here are the instructions. Have fun fellow egotistical, time-wasting babies!!

1 – Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”
or click
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 – Go to Quotations Page and select “random quotations”
or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 – Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 – Use Photoshop, Paint, or similar to put it all together.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    February 25, 2009 9:08 pm

    I’m still abstaining and hoping the Note trend will go away. I’m also not joining anymore quiz apps. At least the Notes don’t require access to all your info, but they do have the instruction to assault your friends with the content. It’s an interesting phenomenon. The ones with the built in suprisingly accurate trick seem to take off. Terrific post.

  2. February 26, 2009 12:40 pm

    I admit, I got sucked into the 25 things note. At first I was annoyed, but then I started reading them and they were actually really entertaining and sometimes touching and insightful. I was entertained enough to feel guilty not giving back, so I even wrote my own. People who would NEVER participate in things like that were participating. In my circle, the titles gradually changed to “If [insert name of person who wouldn’t be caught dead participating in a chain email] is doing this, I guess I have no excuse… 25 things about me.” Some of the material was so good I made a “top 25 25 things” post where I mixed up a list of all of my favorites from different friends. It was a “chain letter” by nature, but the content and inspired interaction felt like the rest of the Facebook experience.

    But now it’s out of hand.

    I’ve always taken great pains to explain to the Facebook-resistant that Facebook isn’t like MySpace. That if you choose to only add friends you actually know and avoid 3rd-party applications, the majority of interaction is actual interaction and not just clutter. But this whole note thing is threatening that, as notes are a native app and removing it means you miss out on actual notes. I wish they’d develop a “note game” app so this phenomenon can stop cluttering the note-sphere. And now the album game is encroaching on the photo-sphere.

    I want my native apps to work like expect them to – when someone writes a new note I want to get excited about reading something substantive, random or at least original. When someone tags me in a photo I want it to be an actual photo of me, or of something specifically representative of me. Now I’m starting to ignore notes, and I’m glad my favorite American Idol re-capper has taken to the blogsphere so I don’t have to worry about missing his weekly wildly funny and original recap note in a sea of “My First Born” or “One Word” notes.

    The thing I loved most about Facebook was the ability to control my experience. Until now, the expected user behavior has pretty much matched and remained consistent within each app. When there were variations they were at least in the same spirit. But this notes thing… it’s like the masses have found a way to work SuperPoke into a standard wall posting. Annoying.

  3. alexmkerlick permalink*
    February 26, 2009 3:01 pm

    I made an album cover and it turned out really emo. I told Kim, and she responded, “What’s emo?”

  4. kimtrokey permalink
    February 26, 2009 3:16 pm

    soooorrry. i said i wasn’t a bad ass. i like libraries. remember?

  5. melissahamilton permalink
    March 4, 2009 4:28 pm

    To Nicole’s point . . . FB can either be another social network littered with apps, annoying notes, inappropriate photos, and gift etc.

    Or it can be a powerful tool for connection and a way of self expression that I think is lost in today’s world.

    I too liked the 25 note, but didn’t participate as I began noticing the note phenom taking off in a direction I didn’t support (mainly folks I DIDN’T want to know that much about tagged me and I got a little more than I bargained for), but for those people who are truly my friends, who I crave connection with, and maybe don’t get the chance to talk with as much as I would like, this little peek into their minds was refreshing.

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