Friendster is terrifying. It’s not just the way it smears this junior highschool atmosphere over everything, as Patricia wrote, it’s so unbelievably cliquish. You might come across someone you didn’t know, who has similar interests to you and maybe, with luck, lives on the same continent, but they’re fenced in by the groovy photos, the hip and crazy testimonials and most of all by the endless lists of friends-as-accessories they’ll have. I’m more likely to email a stranger because I like their website than I am to message a fellow Friendster because their profile appeals to me.

And harnessing social networking? Last week my mum rented her flat to a friend of a friend of her daughter’s (me) because my friend emailed his friends asking if anyone knew about a flat for rent. I doubt that Tribe or Friendster would have helped there – partly, of course, because you’re never going to get everyone to sign up for an artificial, partial literalisation of friendship, and partly just because email and word of mouth work fine as they are, thank you very much.

(I have written much more positive posts about Friendster in the past, and maybe I will again. If you search jill/txt using friendster as a keyword you’ll get a more balanced picture of my opinions about it.)

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