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Editor's Corner Ask Me Anything

Assistant Features Editor

Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01

If you're an avid Facebook user such as myself, you might have noticed a small trend developing in the form of a Web site called Formspring. Formspring creates a form for users and allows people to submit questions to them, to be answered anonymously. From what I've seen, most of the question-answer interactions range from deliberately humorous to unnecessarily confrontational. Looking beneath the surface, however, there lies a severely untapped potential in Formspring that more people should be taking advantage of.

Imagine having the chance to ask any one of your friends anything that you wanted. Even some of the best friendships might not have that kind of openness. It's a golden opportunity that brings to the forefront values of both openness and honesty. You may be thinking that I'm either taking this Web site way too seriously or thinking entirely too much of it, but, I assure you, I am not guilty of either. Yes, it is only a Web site, and yes, it's not groundbreaking by any means, but at the core of Formspring is something important that deserves recognition.

Part of what leads to division among people can be attributed to that which is left unsaid. You may have seen or known cases where best friends, lovers, or families have been torn apart by an intentional lack of honesty, and in some unfortunate cases, the damage is irreparable. I know that everyone's situation is different and people believe they have certain justifiable reasons for hiding truths from those in their lives, and sometimes, they actually do. I also, however, am a firm believer in being real.

This isn't to say that there haven't been times when I wasn't as "real" as I liked to be, and I'm definitely not saying that honesty is easy, because a lot of the time, it's not. I would love nothing better than for everything in my life and the lives of others to go as smoothly as possible, but, sadly, that's just not the way the world works, and that's something that I'm slowly, but surely, coming to realize. Over the course of this year, I've really started to see that being true to yourself, being honest and real, sometimes involves conflict, since no one in this world shares the same exact views on everything. Also, no one comes into this world knowing exactly who they are and what they want out of life, and, as a result, in the process of discovering ourselves and finding out who we are and who we want to be, we make mistakes.

Sometimes, these mistakes hurt people. For a lot us, that is the polar opposite of what we intend to do with our actions. The sad truth, though, is that pain is a part of life – a very crucial part of life that sometimes leads to greater, happier things than we can ever imagine. I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that we can't let our fear of hurting others hinder our ability to live, that is, our capability to take advantage of the gift of life. We can and should try to be the best people that we can, but if sometimes we don't live up to the expectations put in front of us, most importantly our own, it is important to remember not to be discouraged, because, until the moment that we leave this earth, there's always tomorrow. We always have another chance.

For the true purpose of Formspring to be fulfilled, both parties, the asker and the answerer, need to recognize and adopt a sense of reciprocity. The creator of the form has already taken the first step in opening themselves up to those in their lives, but, in order to successfully propagate this state of complete receptivity and candor, he or she should approach every serious question presented to them with the same amount of respect and desire to answer it. At the same time, those asking the questions have a responsibility to provide the form creator with questions that reflect an equal willingness to create an open and honest environment.

So if you don't have a Formspring and this column has inspired you to get one, please, heed my advice, and don't be surprised if you experience an exotic sense of satisfaction. If you're friends with someone with a Formspring, do the same, and remember, use this coveted opportunity wisely.

A little honesty might go a long way.

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