Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Sometimes we all have a story worthy of more acknowledgement than what Facebook or Twitter can provide. Microblogging websites are the leading medium of choice for sharing these stories with the world. You can discuss embarrassing moments, complain about misfortunes that have befallen you, and share funny experiences on these websites. After posting stories on these sites, viewers are free to comment on them. A few commonly-visited microblogs include FMyLife, MyLifeIsAverage, and Lamebook. The comments can have a significant impact on the self-esteem of the person who posted the story, and this medium of sharing experiences can lead to cyberbullying as well.

FMyLife, or FML, is a website that allows users to post embarrassing stories, most of which have extremely unfortunate outcomes, and each stories ends with “FML”. Viewers can vote “I agree, your life sucks” or “you totally deserved it” on each of these posts, as well as add comments. Here is an example of a post on FML:
“Today, I saw an elderly man fall in a crosswalk, so I jumped off my bike to help. As I helped him across, the light turned green. I then watched across a 6 lane street as someone stole my bike. FML.”
MyLifeIsAverage, or MLIA, is a website similar to FML, except it consists of posts about average experiences in a person’s daily life, all ending with MLIA. Some of the posts also parody ones found on FML. On MLIA, a reader can vote either “average” or “meh” on a post, as well as add comments. Here is an example of a post on MLIA:
“Today, I died from not passing on a chain mail. This is the 117th time this has happened. MLIA.”
Lamebook is a website that is similar to FML and MLIA in nature except that the person who posts the piece on Lamebook is not always the person involved in the story. Lamebook is a collection of typos, poorly planned photos, and embarrassing conversations found on Facebook. Most of the posts are hilarious, and viewers are always free to comment on them.

Now that we have a fairly good understanding of how microblogs work and what they stand for, I am going to discuss the implications they have for users, viewers, and society as a whole. One article on nowpublic.com refers to FML as a “crowd-generated psychiatrist” of sorts, which is an accurate assumption. Internet is the best outlet for bad events in your life. You always have an audience, and the comments allow for feedback from the readers or your post. The fact that anyone can just vent on a website and usually get support, acknowledgement, and understanding is very powerful. Additionally, readers usually find humor in these stories, as well as comfort in not having the same experience.

There are some detriments to this system of sharing experiences online. Comments posted on the stories aren’t always endearing and helpful. Some can be very harmful to a person’s self-esteem, and cyberbullying definitely begins to creep in as a result. I read a post on FML a few years ago where a guy posted about his parents walking in on him having sex with his boyfriend. He had not told of his homosexual tendencies until this happened. Many of the comments were very hurtful because of the guy’s sexual orientation, and the comment thread effectively became a battleground for the war on the rights of homosexuals.

A person doesn’t always have a desirable outcome when posting a story on a microblog, but when they do, the acceptance and understanding by the audience can be very rewarding. The humor provided to the reader on these websites is also a plus. Readers and users of microblogs must conduct themselves responsibly and respectfully if these websites are to ever have more positive atmospheres.

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