Earlier this month, the “25 Random Things About Me”-meme was so omnipresent on Facebook, even major papers like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune discussed it. What, you haven’t heard of it? Wow. No wonder newspapers are going out of business! Well, here’s some background info from the grey lady, then:
…the latest digital fad â€” a chain-letter-cum-literary exercise called â€œ25 Random Things About Meâ€ â€” is threatening to consume what little remaining free time and privacy we have.
Hereâ€™s how it works: friends send you an e-mail message (or, on Facebook, â€œtagâ€ you in a note posted to their profile) with 25 heartfelt observations about themselves â€” like â€œI named my son after a man Iâ€™ve never metâ€ or â€œI once paid good money to see Whitesnake in concertâ€ â€” along with instructions for you to follow suit. You are then expected to gin up your own clever list and foist it upon 25 people, including the friend who asked for it in the first place. [NYT]
The 25 things can be habits, goals, quirky facts– whatever. Everyone on Facebook seemed to be doing it, so much so that a backlash started. People used their status messages to denounce the meme and warn others from including them. Groups like “Stop Tagging Me in 25 Random Things Posts You Tards” were formed. But the lists weren’t really THAT bad. No one was forcing anyone to read them. Often, if you did, you’d end up learning fascinating things about the people whom you allegedly “know”.
That’s the thing about “25 Random Things About Me”: Once you stop being annoyed you realize that, at its best, it’s one of the more compelling — and, yes, even oddly inspiring — wastes of time to hit the Web in years. And let’s cut to the chase. Should we really be complaining about the inanity of this new trend? We’re a nation entertained by lolcats. [salon]
Word. Besides, it’s not like this is anything new:
â€œItâ€™s a brainstorming exercise,â€ said Anne Trubek, an associate professor at Oberlin College who said she used to give nearly identical assignments 15 years ago to beginning writing students. â€œItâ€™s used to get people to think about ideas without the pressure of developing a thesis or an argument.â€ [NYT]
Reading this made me realize that I should write such a list…
So these notes aren’t only informative and entertaining, but they also build community. In a real way, they’re the literature of democracy. [ChicagoTribune]
…but with a twist. I wanted to write about this blog. We have so many new readers, many of whom weren’t around for certain conversations or milestones. What better way to strengthen the bonds of this mutinous community than by telling you a little about how and why we’re here? I don’t think there’s anything else quite like SM out there…and that’s why it was easy to come up with 25 “random” things.
I probably could have come up with a few more (like…#26. Some Hindus think we are a pro-Muslim blog and some Muslims condemn us for being a hotbed of Hinduism. How we are both is beyond me), but this is enough for a Friday. Without further ado…
2) Therefore Sepia Mutiny loosely translates to brown uprising or revolt. Still unclear? Remember sepia-tinted photographs? They’re brown. There you go.
3) It’s pronounced SEE-Pee-Uh. Not SEP-ee-uh. See. Like Free.
4) I’m the one who came up with the name. Painfully earnest emails were traded back and forth, with ballots, rankings, and passionate arguments for or against the 15 names we were considering, until I blurted out, “How ’bout Sepia Mutiny? Like brown mutiny. It’s weird and thus, no one else has it and it’s a pun. Also, it means we can stop voting and start blogging.” So, SM was lucky #16. (This one’s for you, rogue).
5) We were this close to being called “Indian Ink”, which would’ve decisively pre-empted all the annoying, anti-South Asian bullshit we’ve had to deal with over the years. I don’t think that name is as special, inclusive or original as what we decided upon. And I’d feel that way even if Vinod was the Mallu in the bunker who came up with SM.
6) SM was Abhi’s vision. Abhi, Manish, Vinod and I were all aware of each other’s personal blogs. We had each blog-rolled the others, etc. In 2004, Manish and I had posted about two different incidents involving Republican campaigns, which deserved to be called out. Abhi realized it would be far more effective if these stories were in one place, because even though there was some overlap in our readership, our Desi peers were still missing out. And these issues were too important to go unnoticed, during an election year. (There you go, Rahul G.)
7) The fabulous five founders are the four I named above, plus that enigma wrapped in a riddle and dipped in chocolate, Ennis. Ennis was one of my favorite readers and an old friend of Manish and Vinod’s, so he was a natural addition.
After “Indian Ink”, “blogwalla” and “Amar Akbar Anthony” were tied for second place in the great name race.
9) The first post on this blog is an impromptu limerick I wrote on July 30, 2004, when Manish asked each of us to publish our own test posts to make sure our logins worked, etc. I never expected it to live longer than a few hours. It means the world to me that he/we didn’t remove it.
10) Our first “real” or official post was published a week later, on August 7, by Manish. It consists of just one sentence. Obviously, much has changed. We were figuring ourselves out as we went along.
11) As far as I can tell, our first meetup was hosted by Vinod on July 7, 2005 in NYC.
11a) Yes, people have hooked up at meetups. I’ve accidentally walked in on it.
11b) Cheee, cheee you dirty monkeys!
12) SM does not endorse anyone. We are not a partisan blog. We are not all Democrats and it’s annoying when people assume we are and then get mad at us for being our diverse, independent selves.
13) As far as I know, we’ve had meetups in Manhattan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Philadelphia and London (thanks, rudie_c!). If any of that is wrong, I know I’ll get corrected, asap.
14) Trolls have showed up to meetups twice, both in DC. Once, they actually joined us, but refused to introduce themselves or otherwise provide any identifying info, saying that if he did, we’d probably throw him out/beat him up. He just sat there and listened while the rest of us had a rollicking conversation. Awkward. The other time, the troll apparently sat nearby, with a friend and scoped us out– we had no idea they were at Amma. I know this because this troll later made peace with me (strange, but true…it’s happened three times), and they told me about it.
15) We have never had ads and I hope we never will. I love NPR for a reason. I hate blinking things, gyrating cartoons, pop-ups, pop-unders and everything else which assaults my eyes online. I want SM to be an oasis from that crap. Besides, can you just imagine the text ads on the side? “Bharatmatrimony.com, DesiZingles.com, Shaadi.com”…uh, do you really want to see that shit? I don’t.
16) One of the reasons I’m against ads is because I don’t want us to ever feel constrained by or otherwise affected by them. We don’t shill, I hope we never will.
17) When we need money for server costs, we just ask you. You’ve always given us more than we needed, in a matter of days, if not hours. We are so grateful for your support. Everything else is done by volunteers, i.e. site maintenance, design, and yes, blogging and moderating.
18) If you’re sick of me mentioning that, you might be one of the ingrates who complains about something you don’t pay for, which others create as a labor of love. One of the more depressing aspects of this project is the level of entitlement some display with regards to it. We do our best and we still get complaints for not covering X, not moderating Y, not having a better Z, etc. Sigh. This is not our day job. We are not a newspaper or a for-profit organization.
19) Believe it or not, we don’t ban THAT many people. Nor do we ban or delete you if we dislike you personally, you’ve insulted our writing, dared to disagree with us, etc. It’s unfortunate that some choose to level such petty, inaccurate accusations.
19a) If your shit got deleted, either you violated our commenting policy, were off-topic or you were an asshole (or all of the above).
19b) If you got banned, you probably called Vinod “Uncle Tom”. Don’t do that. Not because he’s a mutineer, but because he’s human. It’s nasty, uncalled for and offensive. If you can’t disagree with someone without resorting to that slur, do us all a favor and don’t comment.
20) The post with the most comments of all time is called, “Whoa, is Dating White not Right?”. I stopped counting somewhere around 1,500 mostly because my computer refuses to even load the page. Those 1,500ish comments were added over a mere four days, btw. I wrote an obituary post for “WIDWNR” and even that got 300 comments! You guys love to discuss interracial dating!
21) SepiaDestiny.com is an inside joke– three years ago, one of you asked if we’d start a dating site. That’s the name of it.
22) The other names we considered: Desirati, Dishoom Dishoom, XDesi, BrownAmerica, Desispiracy, PanDesi, Tamarind, Desinfect, Desified, Shotgun Rishta, Desintegrate, Blogging While Brown.
23) Pardesi Gori is the name of an infamous troll who always gets banned but keeps coming back for more. She switches handles (“Mistress of Spices” was another, I think) but we can always figure out who she is by her consistent “tells”. She’s very critical of India, she mentions she’s White but doesn’t date white guys, she tries to out-Brown brown people, etc. If someone accuses you of being her, it’s just because they’re still traumatized by her antics. Forgive them.
24) Razib was not our first commenter (that was someone anonymous), but he has been here the longest. He left his first comment when we were just three days old.
25) There is no real structure to SM. Never has been. No meetings, no deadlines, no story assignments, nothing. We just write about what moves us, if we can add something to the issue and if we have time. We each moderate our own posts for the most part, so sometimes this means that we’ll be tempted to write about something juicy, but if we can’t devote the resources to managing a chaotic comment thread…we might pass.
What about you? If you did the “25 Things” meme and want to share your “top 3″ in the comments below, feel free. Or leave us a link to where we can find your list, online. I’d love to know which one of you has made out with a famous rapper. Oh wait, that I already know.