Times features Nick's and LDV's '25 random things'

by Stephen Tall on February 15, 2009

You know a craze is over when the Sunday supplements start featuring them – from today’s Sunday Times, ’25 random things’ confession craze sweeps the internet:

Millions of people are revealing 25 ‘random’ and often embarrassing things about themselves in the latest phenomenon to sweep the internet … The first of [Nick Clegg’s] 25 random things is: “The weirdest thing I have ever eaten is fried bees in China.”

Clegg, you might think, sounds like a fearless action man. Study his list more closely, however, and he comes across as too slick by half. He oils his eco-credentials with his second entry: “My favourite way to get to work is on my electric moped.” Then he slips in his cleverness: “Of the five languages I speak, I like German the best.” And he makes sure we know he’s a tech-savvy family man: “My sons usually beat me at the boxing on our Wii.”

Rather more spiky is a “25 random things” list about the Lib Dems put together by a party member called Stephen Tall. At No 19 on his list, Tall, a former Lib Dem councillor, notes: “Our leader Nick Clegg was given community service aged 16 after setting fire to a rare collection of cacti in a drunken prank.”

As the next item he lists: “In 1973 Chris Huhne [a senior Lib Dem MP] used a bench to smash his way into Oxford University’s Indian Institute.” And he follows that with: “Notwithstanding these last two points, the party firmly believes ‘We can cut crime!’”

Thankfully, an academic rationale puts it all in perspective for us:

This is all to do with the psychology of the internet,” said Mark Griffiths, professor of psychology at Nottingham Trent university. “The internet is a non-face-to-face, nonthreatening, disinhibiting medium. People reveal things about themselves that they would never do face to face, even when someone knows who you are. People are projecting part of their personality.”

What you choose to list, however random you may think it is, says something about you. “It gives a message even if there isn’t a message … intended,” said Griffiths. “It’s a bit like what pictures we put up in our homes, or how we stack our bookshelves.”

/pretty obvious psychobabble]