The newest sweet, cracklike, habit-forming oversharing platform combines the powers of Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, and mainlines them right to your face. It's called Formspring.Me, and like crack, it'll destroy your life. It's evil, fun, and addictive. And we have one.
Formsping.Me should come with a warning label you have to check off before you use it: BEWARE. WILL CAUSE LINGUISTIC, INTELLECTUAL, AND EMOTIONAL DIARRHEA. Here's how it works: there's a box, and you put questions in it, and the person using it answers them.
This is a dangerous, mischievous platform of oversharing that is, at best, indulgent, and at worse, the most self-serving experience one can create for themselves on the internet from every which angle you approach it. For the people asking the questions, it's an anonymous comment box that they can inundate their interviewees with candid interrogation after interrogation.
For the people answering the questions, it fulfills so many awesomely narcissistic desires: you're on a stage, you're interested in by people asking the questions, or if asked about any number of various topics, the desire to feel like some kind of authority on something. At the very least, someone wants to hear something from you, and you get to sit there and think of an answer. And if there's anything better than being desired, its having someone take some kind of interest in you.
Like I said, this thing is fucking evil. It gets so much worse. Because the questions are submitted anonymously, and you can choose which questions to dignify, you can make subtle implications about people's curiosity or opinions on issues without completely indicting yourself as interested, per se. You're just interested in giving the answer. In other words: imagine being asked the questions you've always wanted to be asked, but couldn't otherwise talk about. The opportunity to say unbecoming shit is simply endless. And if we've learned anything from Twitter, it's that this opportunity will not go quietly into the night. No sir.
On the other end, you can just endlessly bomb someone's Formspring with hate mail, or affection, or subversive questions and you know they'll read it all, because they're using Formspring, and they're not going to turn the box off, because they're trying to get to the good stuff: the questions they want to answer. The worst part is the way each response ends: "Ask me anything," the kind of taunt nobody should ever subject anybody to, or worse, be subjected to.
Formspring.Me is a confessional. It's the Internet's version of Truth or Dare. It's your own personal Charlie Rose where you can choose to be Charlie or Charlie's Guest. It's your venue to be completely, anonymously emotionally abusive towards someone. But—and this bears repeating—the high is cracklike. It's quick, and rapid, and you surge with joy. Three hours of answering Formspring questions feels like five minutes. At first, it's fun. And then you want more. You need more. You feel lonely without the questions. Why isn't anybody asking you any more? And then you get more, and if you're anything like me, your jaw starts to clench and you go balls to the wall with it. I had my own terrible experience with Formspring. The comedown is awful. But other people are getting them.
This site's original editor, Elizabeth Spiers, has mastered the art of Formspring. Anthony DeRosa, the Mediaite columnist and onetime night editor here, has one. Microfame expert Rex Sorgatz has one. Tumblr founder David Karp is toying with the functionality of fully incorporating Formspring into his platform. And yes, sigh, I have one. And it is awful.
Thankfully, like the desire for crack, not everyone has something in them that makes them especially susceptible to the allure of Formspring.Me, especially when the worst of it happens: you can tie it in to your Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook account, and every time you answer a question, it will post to your feed. This will just really annoy people on Twitter, and might cause you to lose friends on Facebook, and will definitely alienate people on Tumblr. Yet: remember your friends who all held out on Twitter and Facebook? Yeah, they have Twitter, and they have Facebook, now. And soon, they'll have Formspring. Like we now do.
So! I can't promise that anybody but me will answer any of these questions, but hopefully I can wrangle some of the other writers on this site to take a few and answer at least a few of them, if we can figure out how to make this anything but an awful idea. In fact, I can almost assure you that none of them will be down with this. Sure, Formspring.Me can be used by people to field important questions and give important answers, but that's not going to happen for a while. Maybe ever. But it sure is fun.
Anyway, we'll start running the best questions and answers in a tidy little Editors Letters column every Sunday. Or at least for one Sunday, or until this goes terribly wrong.