Last night I shut down my Ask.fm account. Well, to be more accurate, I disabled it: it still exists, and can in theory be revived. But it won't be.
Nothing much had happened over the three days of this experiment. Nobody had got in touch with a question to harrass me with. Ask.fm itself had shot two 'Questions of the Day' at me. One was: Which is brainier - cats or dogs? and the other was What insects are you afraid of? I ignored both. I could have clicked on the 'Get a random question' button, but I couldn't be bothered.
Of course I'd not played this correctly. I should have had Facebook and Twitter account on the go already, and then linked those to the Ask.fm account, so that all my friends and contacts on Facebook and Twitter could see my questions and answers, and have an hilarious time following my progress. I can imagine how it would be, if some anonymous person had kept pushing me with questions about my favourite things, on my attitudes to teen sex and music, and whether Xbox or PlayStation was best for gaming. What a spectacle, as I tied myself up in knots with my answers, and dug an ever-deeper hole for myself!
But I'd given the game away with frankness about my adult status, and my oldie photo. The troublemakers who bully kids into suicide wouldn't be willing to take me on. I should have posed as a youngster; but then I've never used that kind of deceit, and never will.
So, end of experiment.
The verdict? I can't see the point, let alone the fascination, of sites like this. If I ever needed to pass the time, or keep boredom at bay, I can think of several far better ways, including playing cards, and writing posts for my own blog if staying indoors is unavoidable.
I don't think that Ask.fm is harmless. It clearly exposes participants to intrusive and abusive questioning from unnamed people. That can't be fun, even if you're grown up, and have some ability to bite back. If you're teenage, and not used to being treated like trash, it could be devastating to your fragile self-esteem.
I'm not surprised that Ask.fm is a long way behind the social networking front runners in popularity. My brief forays into Facebook showed me that FB is (or can be) a much richer experience. Twitter less so. But both let you throw out silly or flippant questions and comments, and both expose you to nasty and hurtful remarks in return. Well, at least those should come only from your nearest and dearest, and trusted contacts. With Ask.fm, you usually don't know who is asking.
And that's so dangerous. It's like responding to a knock on your door on a dark and creepy night, long after midnight, and expecting the caller to be a lovely gentle stranger full of good intent. Whereas common sense should tell you that opening that door will be the beginning of a nightmare you may not survive.