The trouble with Formspring

From clicking through a distant acquaintance’s pictures on Facebook to Googling a friend, stalking has recently become socially acceptable. A new addition to the Internet stalkers’ bookmarks is Formspring, a webpage that allows people to ask each other anonymous questions.

On the site’s homepage, it states, “Formspring lets you and your friends ask questions and give answers about anything and everything!” Why would someone want to be pestered with questions about anything and everything? And why should people know anything and everything about you?

“[Formspring] is not a site for teens at all,” Formspring CEO Ade Olonoh stated in August. But I don’t understand why anybody, let alone mature adults, would willingly set themselves up to be pestered with questions. The site seems geared to a teen audience; it’s an open playground! There are no fences and no rules.

When a friend of mine recently signed up for Formspring, I couldn’t help but show my disgust. I told her that she was asking to be abused, invaded, and exposed to the public. Why would my friend willingly make herself a target for abuse and open herself up for the rude comments bound to come? Sure, she would receive some admiration from strangers, but the subsequent self-esteem boost would be superficial. A majority of questions asked on Formspring promote the idea of physical qualities being superior to personality. Formspring has become an environment that objectifies people.

Does having a Formspring make my friend feel brave, like she’s battling against her peers’ thoughts, when really she’s just absorbing them? Opening a Formspring account does not make you brave, but lends you a screen to hide behind while you mope about your insecurities.

Many people are using Formspring as an outlet to express their anger and hurt feelings towards others. I’ve seen people revealing inappropriate information and hidden thoughts about their friends and enemies. The anonymous questioner does not realize the harm of his or her comments, but why would they? All it takes are a few taps on a keyboard and a click. They don’t feel the distress felt by the person who receives hateful question after question.

The anonymous questioner will soon forget about the post. Maybe it was even a joke. They’ve moved on to somebody else’s Formspring to insensitively declare more rude information. But it’s not as easy for the person who receives the questions to move on. Regardless if people say that they take the questions as a joke, or say that they just don’t care, they are being hurt.

There is one more thing I don’t understand about Formspring: every time you are asked a question, you can choose whether to answer it or keep it hidden. Why do people choose to answer and post such horrific questions? An even scarier thought is that maybe they are not even posting the worst questions that they have received.

“Formspring is really about getting to know people better,” said Formspring CEO Ade Olonoh in an interview with Business Insider in August 2010. Instead of Formspring playing the positive role it was created for, it has become a part of the Internet that exposes way too much information.  By just looking at someone’s Formspring, you can acquire an uncomfortable amount of information about him or her.

“How tall are you?”

“Where do you go to school?”

Questions like these are what scare me the most. Through Formspring, people are slowly leaking out private information about themselves. The questions and answers are dangerously invasive.

Everyone wants to know what people think about him or her; it’s basic human nature.  Like everyone, I have moments where I feel self-conscious and curious about what others think about me. But is it right for private thoughts about me to be revealed on the Internet, visible for myself and the world to see? Being poked and judged by my peers cannot be healthy.

Formspring has become a top contributor to self-consciousness and teen drama. Due to the way the young generation has abused Formspring, I see no benefits of activating an account.