Student project lets NU share ‘FMLs’

Olivia Wainhouse

There is a better chance of getting admitted into Harvard University than there is getting a story posted on the fmylife.com Web site.

A group of students decided to bring the virtual experience of the site to the real world and gave Northwestern students a chance to share their embarrassing stories at the Rock on Friday.

“We wanted to do this project to put a face to FML … see how people differed in terms of what they put down and what they would confess,” said Communication junior Louise Huterstein.

The new social networking Web site allows people to anonymously submit and comment on embarrassing stories.

“I read it daily and it makes my life better,” said Weinberg and Music sophomore Justin Kim, who wrote a song including stories from FML and posted it to YouTube (www.youtube.com/jkimisyellow). “It’s usually late at night and I’m really tired. It’s a nice distraction, you can just read three FMLs and you can be like ‘your life sucks more than mine.'”

Huterstein, Communication freshman Rebecca Orr, Communication sophomore Aashna Shah, Communication sophomore Jessica Lau and Communication sophomore Olena Javorska chose to research the “interpersonal communication” side of fmylife.com. They researched how it creates a community for a group project in their Mediated Communication class.

“We wanted to come up with something interesting for our generation,” Orr said. “There are so many things coming out online, like Texts From Last Night and Twitter – the one that really interested us was FML.”

The project included three elements: a student survey, contact with fmylife.com and an FML day event.

The students posted FML boards near the Rock where students could share their stories; they wanted to see how fmylife.com brings students together and if students would be as willing to reveal embarrassing stories in person without the anonymity of the FML Web site.

“By creating an FML day and bringing people that use it together, we’re giving a face to a faceless community,” Huterstein said.

The group set up two bulletin boards: one with Post-it notes, and the other for students to read and share their FMLs. Students also stood on a stool and shouted out their FMLs to passersby near the Rock.

Huterstein said she learned that people want to make light of embarrassing situations and find comfort in the community the Web site creates.

“Before, when you had embarrassing situations you kept them to yourself, but now people are airing them,” she said.

She added that the term “FML” has become commonplace.

SESP junior Megan Hubel said the site allows users to share similar stories.

“In many ways, I feel my life is a long list of embarrassing moments that are meant to be laughed about,” she said.

From the survey and contacting fmylife.com staff members, the group found that mostly New Yorkers and Californians read the site, there is a 4.5% chance of successfully posting an FML story and stories are voted on by readers after being vetted through an automatic system.

“There’s definitely a sense of camaraderie in the really embarrassing moments that everyone goes through,” Hubel said.

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