Pity Party? We Have An App For That!

fmlAugust 6, 2009 Life’s most embarrassing moments, ill-fated bloopers, and misfortunes of OTHER people seem to rank high on kids’ comic-tragedy hit list, so it comes as no surprise that FML would sweep the teen scene in misery loves company user generated content.

I could cite Psychology Today and get all analytical about basic human desire for empathy, understanding and connectivity, but it can pretty much be distilled into a pithy outreach tool for a grin when life hits the skids.

What better time than adolescence to have a shoulder to lean on, and users to virtually validate your ‘woe is me’ moment so you don’t feel so alone?

Title language side, FMyLife.com and its various digital iterations that I browsed through today, including Facebook, (over a million+ fans) Twitter (over 85,000+ followers) and now the FML iphone app (which mysteriously ‘downloaded itself’ onto my phone at the beach last weekend) seem to tap into kids’ core needs for ‘normalcy’ among peers.

fml visualThey have various categories to house content in ‘you think YOUR life s*cks, listen to this one’ touchpoints that are sometimes hilariously sad. (oxymoron intended)

Terms of service states there are ‘no taboos’ and it’s a ‘community-moderated’ site where users police what gets published, so heads up, mod squad and parent posse.

Though many assume that a site like this might ‘go in the gutter’ fast…surfing through the posts, they were mostly everyday “wince moments” of commonality rather than trash talking. (see screenshot from IntoMobile.com) Makes sense, from a quality control standpoint, and fits my “comedy club rule of thumb,” which is:

The best lines are the most real and relatable, only the least imaginative rely on the crass. That’s what authenticity that tickles your funny bone is all about.

Got angst? Now you’ve got a place to put it!

In the spirit of FML, here’s my own unsubmitted version from today, which pretty much fits with most of my week, come to think of it. In keeping with their format here:

fml screenshot

…I’ll start out with my own silly story, which is a blog post in itself, that I may or may not write in a larger context.

It DOES have some strong media/marketing ties based in pop culture, not to mention a historic precedent dating back to my own teen/youth days where I ended up in Herb Caen’s column for getting mugged in front of the Hall of Justice…(talk about FML moments, and yes…I was going to HOJ to fight a parking ticket.)

Anyway, here goes:

police.jpg“Today I used $60 worth of gas to try to fight an undeserved $250 speeding ticket for ‘driving while blonde’ in a redneck town to prove a point to my teen about the unfairness of profiling based on ANY race, creed or hair color.

We’d been stopped twice in 48 hours for no apparent reason other than road tripping in swimwear through the valley in 104 degree heat because our airconditioning is broken…

(My daughter’s long blonde hair was flowing out the car window like a beacon for the CHP in a bankrupt state that needs revenue generation for highways, all that was missing was a fire engine red sports car color to stand out any further with ‘pick me’ signage)

I wasn’t even going to bother fighting it because it was so far away to backtrack (2.5 hours) but when the officer pulled away after citing me, holding us there for almost an hour in the heat, she said, “But Mom, you didn’t do anything wrong, that’s SO messed up!” I decided I needed to make a point.

So I plied through analytics and stats, brought in all my evidence of my cruise control reading with mechanic’s  verification of no faulty spedometer or gear, etc. figuring I’d impart a ‘win or lose it’s worth trying’ teaching moment.

Unfortunately, it was very clear I’d never even have the chance to present it, as the mumbling judge simply went through the perfunctory routine of hearing the cop at length, allowing me to only respond to ‘questions asked’ and then telling me I could  ‘take the point or pay another $60 for traffic school (which would bring the tally close to $400). High price for innocence…

Found out later it’s a ‘training corridor’ for highway cops, so we’d never really had a chance, and when I tried to turn a negative into a positive in ‘life lessons’ for my daughter (‘sometimes life isn’t fair, etc.) I asked her soothingly, “So do you see the point here, honey?”

She replied, “yah, don’t trust cops, old men are gross leering jerks, and you should’ve dyed your hair brown like I told you a long time ago.” Sigh. ‘FML.’  😉

Oh! And for the parents out there wincing at the acronym and wondering about my choice of coverage playing into an increasingly coarse culture, please save your hate mail…I DO have a purpose here…

bdcThe success of the site and the camraderie it elicits has already been tapped and leveraged for good.

Check out how the format has been adapted into a very WORTHY charity spin based on a similar ‘shout out’ premise called Blame Drew’s Cancer…

It takes all the carping about life’s little setbacks and puts it in perspective for a purpose.

Suffice it to say, one cancer patient, Drew Olanoff has already inspired 20,000 actions and netted the attention of LiveStrong as their first sponsor to turn that power whine of frustration into a purpose to champion change.  (the site enables you to “Blame Drew’s Cancer” ‘for anything not going your way) Yep…20K blames in less than 100 days!

More on that CauseCast tomorrow…

Meanwhile, you can “Blame Drew’s Cancer” for my blog experiencing technical difficulties which have precluded my regular posts this week…;-) Back atcha shortly.



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