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Formspring's anonymous questions tempting to students

Ever wondered what your friends really think about you? A new Internet service, Formspring. me, is banking on it.

Gawker.com called Formspring, which allows people to create profiles where their friends or anyone else can ask them anonymous questions, “the sociopathic crack cocaine of oversharing.” Gawker’s own Formspring account is typical &- the questions tend to range from the profane (“Ever tried to blow yourself?”) to the boring (“Are you all as cute as you are funny?”) to the downright mean (“Why are you guys such f—-ts?”).

The site has exploded in popularity in recent weeks, spreading virally on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It was a top trending topic on Twitter when what appeared to be an Associated Press report said that the site would reveal the names of the site’s questioners on April 1; the story turned out to be a hoax.

In addition to the buzz surrounding the site, last month a group of seven teenage girls in Harrisburg, Pa. got into a fight after squabbling on the Formspring service.
Many Boston University students, however, still seemed skeptical of the service.
Jesse Adams-Lukowsky, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he has seen people posting links to the site on Facebook. To him, the whole concept seems kind of childish, he said.

“Oh, I used to do this stuff when I was 10,” Adams-Laikowski said.
“People have tried to get me to use it and I refuse to,” said Laura Brown, a freshman in the College of General Studies. Brown said many of her friends from high school use the website.

Often, Brown said, people are embarrassed by the kinds of questions they’re asked.
“I know a lot of people who have tried it and kind of regretted it,” she said.
“I think in theory people want the truth, but in reality they can’t handle it,” said CAS freshman Emily Johnston. “It’s just vanity. They don’t expect to hear bad things, they expect to hear good things.”

Some students said they understood the appeal of the service, however.

“The point is that people who are asking don’t have to defend what they’re saying,” Johnston said.

“It’s really hard to tell someone something you don’t like about them,” Adams-Laikowski said, comparing the service to “being able to shout behind a curtain.”

CAS sophomore Anne Sjolander said the site was typical of a generation that is used to socializing through a computer screen. Still, she said, the site takes this social isolation to a new level through its use of anonymity.

“I feel like I can talk to my friends, so what’s the point?” Sjolander said.
Adams-Laikowski echoed this view, saying that even without the cloak of anonymity he usually has no problem being honest with his friends.

Still, he said he would consider creating a Formspring account.

“If I was bored out of my mind and I was on the computer, I guess I could see how it would be kind of fun,” he said. “It’s kind of a mystery. Maybe someone has really wanted to say something about me for a really long time and this is the forum to do it.”

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