Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 31: The Final Nod

The night brought no more queries or responses. Or actually, it brought one response: No, from one of my invitees. Somehow, I'm not surprised. Hence, the totals remain the same as yesterday. I won't bother to repeat them.

This is the part where I do Schindler's List, where I think, If I'd only tried harder. Schindler wondered what if he'd given up his ring and his car to save people. I wonder if, maybe, instead of contacting three people a day, I'd contacted twelve. Or if I'd spent more time on Facebook trying to get people to come back to Friendster. Or if I'd contacted twenty people a day. Or thirty? How much time, how many people, is enough? When do you know you've truly tried hard--enough? When is it time to quit?

I wonder myself sometimes in regard to dating. So many queries. So many women asked out. So many rejections. Do I fail because I don't try hard enough? Or would it not matter at all? There's a particular singles Web site among people of my faith that I used to frequent. At one point, I'm pretty certain I'd written every single woman on that site, at least of close to my age. Most didn't respond. The few that did either disappeared after a few e-mails or grew into friends but not much more. Try harder? But where? How? Sometimes, it feels like I've exhausted every resource.

On Friendster, of course, there are more resources because there are more people. Try hard enough long enough, I might have found someone who actually was into using it--and not just using it with me. I mean, it's popular in Asia apparently--I could have wandered into the Asian realm and had penpals from the Philliphines galore perhaps. But among Americans, it seemed the wrong place to look for connections, and had I found such connections, I don't know that they would have had so much appeal to me or I to them. A few messages, and we likely would have parted. Such is the difficulty in making friends, virtual or otherwise.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 30

So here it is, thirty days. Today, I sent out my last Friendster messages--my last lures. Will any fish bite? Last call, last chance, last whatever. Maybe folks have been holding out on me. Maybe I'll have about thirty-eight messages in my inbox tomorrow after nothing to show for all of my efforts over the last few days and little to show before that. That's right, nothing yesterday either. This means, after thirty days, my efforts amount to twenty-four Friendster friends written, two replies; fifteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; seven invitations extended, one acceptance; forty-eight strangers written, one reply; five profile views; two added friends. Pretty sad.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 29

Yesterday, one of my Friendster invites e-mailed me back, claiming ignorance--confusion--over whether he should befriend the me on the left side of my photo or the me on the right side. Alas, an excuse. But at least I know he got the note. He didn't join Friendster.

So the question is inevitable, after nearly thirty days of constant usage and trumping of this cause and little success at all: Why keep a Friendster account? At one time, I had hoped that Friendster would help me keep in contact with a few friends who have since moved on out of the area. But those friends don't use their account, I take it, because they have not replied to any messages I've sent. Perhaps, I might be able to dig them up on some other network, or perhaps they are lost to the oblivion that is humanity, the billions of us that haunt this planet, often with the same name, and make it difficult to find the one person we are looking for. So obviously, keeping tabs on people is not the main reason to keep the account.

And yet, after this thirty days is over, I probably will keep the account open. Why? Sure, I like the idea of disappearing, especially if the account isn't being used. I'm kind of tired of the whole social networking thing anyway. Going nondigital seems kind of cool. But I also hold out hope that out there someone might be looking for me who I want to be found by. That, I suppose, is one reason I'll keep the account, as well as many of the other accounts I have. Another is that the only way onto many of these sites is to have a profile registration one's self. So it's a matter of convenience, keeping a profile just so that one can occasionally--even rarely--get onto the site should it prove useful. But will it?

After twenty-nine days, here's what I have to show for my efforts: twenty-four Friendster friends written, two replies; fifteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; seven invitations extended, one acceptance; forty-five strangers written, one reply; five profile views; two added friends.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 28

Today I managed to have one new profile view--and a new message. Of course, the message was more of the same--come to Facebook, or also Twitter. I suppose Twitter is the up-and-coming service, which I have yet to fully understand. As a non-cell-phone user, it doesn't seem very applicable to me, and it seems frankly a bit annoying. Why would I want to read six-word messages every couple of minutes from friends and acquaintances? Quite distracting. There's something kind of nice about being offline at times, unreachable--something that seems like one is able to be much more in the moment. (Beyond that, when I think of how much time I spend at work replying to constant streams of e-mail and how much I can accomplish when I simply turn e-mail off and thus refuse to even look at it--something I only do when I'm working after hours--just how much of a distraction technology is becomes clear.)

The totals: twenty-four Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; seven invitations extended, one acceptance; forty-three strangers written, one reply; five profile views; two added friends.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 27

Maybe I was overemphasizing the frequency of spam as being important to how much a software is used. Today I had some spam message claiming to be from Classmates. Who uses Classmates? You have to pay for virtually every service you'd actually want to use.

Anyway, I saw no progress on the Friendster front overnight. This means that the totals now stand as such: twenty-four Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; seven invitations extended, one acceptance; forty strangers written, no replies; four profile views; two added friends.

Three days to go. I know, that shouldn't be the attitude of someone looking to get friends to use Friendster again, but I'm getting tired.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 26

Today, I received my first spam message from Facebook--or a Facebook faker--to my personal account. Over the past week, I've gotten several to my work account. I guess this pretty much proves that Facebook is taking over, since I haven't have gotten any such notes from MySpace of late--or from Friendster. It also shows that someone has figured out how to spam in Facebook, which the absence of has, I think, helped make Facebook popular. And it may be the next link in pushing people toward yet another network, though which one at this point, I wouldn't have a clue. There are so many, but in terms of general "friend" accounts, MySpace and Facebook seem to be it. Unless of course people come back to Friendster. Other accounts--ones I actually use more frequently--are more specialized: Good Reads, Fictionaut. Take an interest you share and join a network that involves people who only share your interest. It's pretty good networking, but it breaks down the pattern of making new friends locally or making friends of friends.

So today I tried something a little different. I invited two new people and wrote to one friend who I'd neglected to write. I figured the two new people would understand me, and the friend probably wouldn't (hence the invite and the delay in writing the other). I also had one more profile view, by a complete stranger I haven't even written to. Strange. Maybe I showed up on some "highlight" page. Wouldn't that be cool? My special profiles on the opening page seem to be the same people all the time.

The totals now stand at the following: twenty-four Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; seven invitations extended, one acceptance; thirty-seven strangers written, no replies; four profile views; two added friends.

Rock on. This has got to work eventually. Maybe if I continued for another two or three years? Eh?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 25

Today's results--you know them already: twenty-three Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; thirty-seven strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends. Ooh, deja vu. (Blogger's supposed to be down tomorrow night, so there's a possibility I won't update tomorrow. But that doesn't mean the Friendster work will stop. Not, at least, for another five days. Scrap that: Blogger will only be down for ten minutes, so I guess I will update--or so the theory goes.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 24

The results of this experiment seem to be assured. If this were a movie, this is where things would go into hyperdrive, this, the last quarter of our story. Something would swoop in and make things all start getting better. I would find the "secret" and would open the way to all those Friendster foot soldiers wanting to be part of Friendster nation. Cue dramatic music. (Wait for denouement, where I stride off with my Friendster girlfriend amid the cheers of all the people I've brought together via social networking software.)

But this is not a movie, so the ending is a good deal more predictable. This is an ending in keeping with the beginning. This is no bang. This is a whimper. I glide out quietly, a failure. If I want to network, I go where the masses of people like me are. I learn that, as I knew all along, I am irrelevant. I am not a trendsetter. But the end is not yet here, so I trudge on, tiring. I am heroic. I am tragic. Or I am pitiful. I am all three, depending on which storyline you want to put over this one.

Today's results--you know them already: twenty-three Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; thirty-five strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 23

E-mailed three more folks today on Friendster, all folks I don't know. I've pretty much given up on finding folks I do know who will actually correspond. Last night, talking with one of my friends to whom I'd sent an invitation, he simply noted his confusion. Why'd you send that to me? Alas, the invitation was trashed without even a look-see at the site.

The totals are now as follows: twenty-three Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; thirty-one strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends.

Yeah, if you get the idea that I'm really kind of looking forward to the end, you're right. I sense that all I'm doing by mailing people, whose profiles are there to be mailed to, is annoying folks. But then, that's what I generally feel like when I go up to total strangers or even sometimes when I go up to friends. Hey, am I annoying you? If I am, I will go away. Better yet, I won't even come over there. Folks think I'm unfriendly. I'm just trying not to be a nuisance. Experiences like this make me think I truly am the latter.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 22

So today, I got another invitation to be a friend on Facebook--this from someone who is a MySpace friend. Does this mean he's migrating? I accepted the friendship, but I advised him that it would be even better if he joined me on Friendster. Will he do so? Who knows? I also managed to find a couple of people from Britain I met about four years ago in Spain and wrote to them. Facebook users, of course. Oh well. No finding those folks on Friendster, or many others, but I keep trying.

I realized today that I don't know which of the five friends out of the twenty-eight I had when I started this I haven't written. I suspect I've written all but a couple actually. So--sigh--I'm out of friends to write. I am now simply scrolling through the stranger rolls, with no apparent progress. The totals are now as follows: twenty-three Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; twenty-eight strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 21

Last night I called a friend who I had Friendster mailed a few weeks before. I hadn't heard from him since he moved six weeks ago. He told me, when I called, that he's been thinking about me just that day. You see, he'd been looking at his MySpace account and thinking about getting rid of it, because all he uses now is Facebook. (It's true--people are migrating!) But then, there was me--I wasn't on Facebook, but I was on MySpace, and how to keep in touch with me. But I am on Facebook, I told him--look me up. I also told him that I had Friendster messaged him. He laughed. He hadn't been on Friendster in years. Sigh. He doesn't even know when he has messages there. Anyway, best of all, I noted, was just e-mail. You see, other than Friendster (for this month at least), I don't really use the social networking software, so the best way to get in touch with me is via e-mail.

To me a networking site should be about networking, about meeting new people, not about simply networking with folks you already know. I don't want broadcast messages--or to create broadcast messages--for people who are my actual friends. I want the personal touch. The one-to-one message. I think that in part is what I don't enjoy about the network software, where these six-word comments stand in for real communication. E-mail, of course, can be the same way. But the difference is that it can also be substantive, and that is, I suppose, the way I usually use it. Some have said that I write real letters. There are paragraphs. There is usually at least a page, sometimes many pages, of a given correspondence.

Maybe the problem, then, for me is that I haven't really settled into the digital communication age. Nevertheless, I try--by contacting three new Friendster people each day. The totals are now as follows: twenty-three Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; twenty-five strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 20

Not much time today, so I'll just do the numbers, with more to come tomorrow. As expected, there was no action on my profile, so we're holding steady. It's all rather predictable. Will I break out in here somewhere? Twenty-two Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; twenty-three strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 19

A few days ago I spied someone I know from church on Friendster--not the person I wrote about earlier. This is a local person, a person I see virtually every week--a young person, barely past eighteen (she was eighteen days ago and is now apparently nineteen). This is a person who, when Friendster was actually getting used with regularity among my peer set would have been sixteen at the oldest but more like fourteen or thirteen. I was intrigued. Was Friendster finding a home among the youths? You know, now that old peope have invaded Facebook, maybe youths have to find a new spot, so why not return to the first.

I finally got around to looking at the profile today. I'd had some trouble refinding it, and I hadn't clicked on it the first time because part of me wasn't sure I was ready to write, was ready to open this door. But then I figured, why not? So now it's written, the message to her. But her profile, I have to say, was a bit of a disappointment. She had zero friends. None. Zilch. My theories about youths were incorrect. Perhaps one of the most startling things, however, was that, not only was her profile up to date (she moved here within the last year, so I knew she'd been on relatively recently), but it was also new. That's right--new. She joined in 2008. Almost all the profiles I come across from folks here in town were created in 2003, some in 2004--you'd be hard pressed to find anything past 2006.

I figure maybe she's looking to make friends locally. And what a great way to do it, no? Go to Friendster. But unfortunately, she's late--the party is gone. I want her to have friends. I want people to write to her, to Friendster her. Now, I have more reasons to make this site something to believe in, to enjoy again.

But so far, even with all my attempts, I am seeing few gains. Today's numbers are a case in point. Despite all my attempts to communicate, the return numbers are stubbornly holding steady: twenty-one Friendster friends written, two replies; fourteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; twenty-one strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 18

It's desperate times here. I've hit the Friendster friends I barely know, but I'm writing them anyway. I'm writing folks I have seen around town, years ago, who have moved away, who I never know. I'm writing complete strangers. I'm looking for someone who is doing something on Friendster, someone close by. A search through the local people field shows that some folks have been active in the past week--one I even found had been active in the past twenty-four hours. But click on their profiles, and the profile is "private." Bummer. I'm being locked out, man. That's what I think is happening. It's not that people aren't using Friendster. It's that people are ignoring me on Friendster. There's likely a whole world of folks using this thing, intent on seeing me out of the network. Well, it's not going to happen. Not for another twelve days at least. So tough.

Today's totals: twenty Friendster friends written, two replies; thirteen acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; twenty strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends. How do you make an emoticon for tears?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 17

So even though I have thirty Friendster friends, part of me isn't too keen on writing the last ten of them. Why? Because they're those people who added me who I barely know--folks who I wonder whether they would even remember me, folks who added me in a moment in which they met me (a bar around her used to keep a computer online at all times and people would check their Friendster, or later MySpace, accounts from it). I can imagine writing one of these people, and them answering back, who are you? "I'm me--I'm on your friends list!" "How did you get on my friends list?" "You added me." "Why would I add you? I don't even know you? Who are you?" That's the conversation I imagine.

And yet, if I'm e-mailing total strangers, why not e-mail the friends who I barely know? I guess the only thing that fills me with trepidation is that conversation above. See, if I write to a complete stranger and get that response, no big deal. I am a stranger--I don't know you. Much easier to accept that line of questioning from someone who really doesn't know me as opposed to someone who knows me--or knew me--and has forgotten me. That's just depressing.

But e-mail said Friendster people I did today, in an attempt to get them using Friendster again as well. Maybe I might grow closer to said people. Maybe they'll write back--hey, I remember you! Or maybe, like most, they'll just ignore me.

Today's totals: nineteen Friendster friends written, two replies; twelve acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; nineteen strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends. No progress today. But it's coming. It's got to.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 16

I'm struck by the large number of free sites on the Internet, all supported by advertising--or not. How, I wonder, do so many of these Internet-only companies stay in business. I think of Blogger, for example, which doesn't necessarily include ads, unless the user him- or herself adds them. (Create a homepage on Geocities, by contrast, and unless you pay someone money for the site, expect an annoying pop-up box ad to be perenially on the site.) And I think also of these social networking sites. They sell adspace; people fill the adspace. But how often do people click on Internet ads? I almost never do. I suppose there is some relevance in just presenting your name on the site, like a billboard. But it's hard for me to believe that whole networks of personal profiles are supported this way. (Then again, I'm amazed that there are enough companies to take out ads in newspaper and on television stations to actually pay for all the materials in those media forms as well. There are an awful lot of folks wanting to get a message out, willing to pay for it, and--more importantly--able to pay for it.)

Today's ads--Tivo, Vonage, some online dating site (a lot of those advertise on social networking sites, which I wonder about because how, with the networking site offer free places to meet singles, does a site that expects you to pay expect folks using the former to be tempted by the latter?) I didn't click on any of the ads. I have no television for Tivo and no desire to change phone service or sign up for cell phone service. So . . . But maybe the words will stick in my head and the next time I want said services I'll think, wow, they advertise on the Internet somewhere. Maybe. I suppose it works. After all, when I read a story online and months later come across an author's name again, sometimes I wonder, that person's name sounds familiar. Eventually, occasionally, I end up becoming a fan--someone who actually seeks that person's work out.

Then there was this quiz ad--you know the type, one that dares you to answer a question (90 percent of people apparently answer wrong). Usually, I ignore these. Today, I went ahead and clicked on it, expecting I'd find some phone ad at the end, expecting me to answer a bunch of questions or sign up for something before I could get the correct answer. No thanks. Indeed, more questions were to be asked. No time for that.

A Netflix ad. No thanks. Haven't signed up and don't plan to. An opportunity to vote for Pepsi or Coke and win a laptop. Who cares? I'm not giving out information based on that so that people can bother me.

Today's totals if anyone cares: eighteen Friendster friends written, two replies; twelve acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, one acceptance; seventeen strangers written, no replies; three profile views; two added friends. Note the increase in friends and views here. I'm shooting up the ladder of Friendster friends. I now have thirty. Someone actually accepted my invitation. Hot dog! We're on our way.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 15

Last night, Friendster finally made it to my list of frequented sites in Foxfire. I'd been wondering if it would ever break through, and I'm surprised it took as long as it did--almost fifteen days of constant visitations. But that just shows how long I'd been ignoring it. How long, I wonder, will it take for the site to disappear from the most-frequented sites once the thirty days is up? Sad, really, that I'm assuming I won't be returning much after the month is over, that I'm already assuming my attempts to rescuscitate its usage will be unsuccessful. But fifteen days have made me a bit weary and pessimistic.

Last night, I ran into a friend who I tried to add as a friend on Friendster. We did not discuss. I don't know if he received my invitation. I suppose I could have asked. But something seemed to tell me that discretion was possibly better. I remember, several years ago, I added someone else. When we ran into each other, he mentioned it--"I hadn't been on Friendster in months," he said, but why not? At that time, Friendster had fallen into disusage among my peers but not to quite the depth it has now. It was a nice joke, to be Friendster friends, with this person I had somehow managed never to add or to be added by. How would it be taken now? Would said friend tell me to add him on Facebook? (We are actually already MySpace buddies.)

Today's attempts ran this way: I contacted one Friendster friend, one acquaintance, attempted to add one acquaintance friend, and actually added a friend based on a friend request. Of the acquaintance I wrote to, he has a lot of Asian women on his connections list as well as a lot of younger women. Some of the younger women are definitely legitimate--some of them are church people I know of through third parties, which makes me wonder if Friendster is perhaps catching on among younger people (these folks would have been, like, teens when Friendster was getting used among my peers), because some of these people have been on in the past week. Really cool! Maybe I've found the active users at last. The Asian connections would lead me to believe either he accepts all comers as friends, or--and I think this more likely--he has been to Asia and knows lots of folks over there. If I'm remembering, he went over there to teach for a year. The appearance on his page of someone who had added me a few months whose legitimacy I questions caused me to go ahead and add her. Hopefully, she's not some Asian robot (but her profile was set to private, so I'm betting not).

The totals, as a result, are now seventeen Friendster friends written, two replies; twelve acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, no replies; fifteen strangers written, no replies; two profile views. One added friend, bringing my total to twenty-nine.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 14

I got a publication rejection slip today. It had been a while. I need one of those once every few weeks to confirm that I still exist, that I'm still alive. If I don't get one every now and then, I begin to think that I exist in some kind of void, that I send words out but only into nothingness--no audience at the other end. I feel like I'm a radio wave that has hit the end of the solar system and is now just out in the ether, wandering around, no one even confirming that I carry nothing worthy of being read by a larger mass of people. But today, I got my confirmation that is so. I feel vindicated. I'd begun to doubt it--I hadn't heard from anyone in about a month or so, it seemed. All this mail and e-mail sent out and ignored, simply deleted or tossed. Or was it?

If it weren't for my one Friendster friend who wrote back three times, I think I'd have begun by now to wonder whether Friendster even worked--if maybe my "messages" were simply going off to some electronic netherworld. That's right--no responses to day. I'm still at twenty-eight friends and two profile views. It's like I'm in some sci-fi film, the last man on earth, and the only person I can get messages from is myself. But I tried again anyway today to break through. Is anyone out there? Today, I wrote to one more Friendster friend and one acquaintance, and I tried to add yet another acquaintance as a friend. Will these messages get through? If a Friendster message is sent out and no one receives it, was there a message at all?

The totals now stand at sixteen Friendster friends written, replies from two; ten acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, no replies; fifteen strangers written, no replies; two profile views.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 13

Facebook came up in conversation at lunch today. A coworker who is enrolled in a long-distance MFA program keeps tabs on others in her school/class via the social networking site. In fact, I could see such sites being quite useful for classes--well, sort of. She was saying how she had really enjoyed the site the first couple of weeks, but now she was having a hard time getting into it. The various games--application add-ons--weren't what they used to be.

Wait? Application add-ons? Yeah, apparently MySpace and Facebook both have a ton, and I'm sure Friendster has its share too, though I haven't gone looking for them. Only in Facebook do they seem so prominent. Folks are constantly inviting me to join this game or that application or this group. To date, I have downloaded on application, and I have yet to actually put it to use. I downloaded it because I had just reconnected with a former roommate (albeit not through Facebook but through a good old online search with a follow-up e-mail). He invited me to be in touch with him on Facebook, and I probably felt a bit like I needed to accept the application to be sociable. And maybe I had a little curiosity about the game as well. Back when we'd roomed together, over a decade ago now, he'd played chess with one friend via e-mail. This was before IM and other things were common obviously, and a very slow way to play chess--they made one move each day. The application seemed similar to that, and sure, I was willing to play long-distance chess. But once I downloaded, I realized I would have to have a long learning curve to whatever this game was, and I simply have never ever gotten around to really trying to practice and play. I don't have time for this. Sure, I write a blog--or two or three--but I don't by and large read them with any regularity. I read largely online journals--that alone is enough to suck up what time I want to spend online. I want to play games in person. I want to Friendster boardgame companions, here, in Athens. So with that in mind, that's what I did today. Will my luck hold?

I have at least managed to get one person to start using Friendster regularly, if only to write to me. A third response from that particular Friendster friend came today. (The news of your friends--that is, what my friends are doing--is sure easier to track on Friendster than on Facebook. That is, my friends are doing nothing, save the one who's writing me!)

Anyway, today's Friendster contacts ran thus: one Friendster friend contacted and two total strangers. Other than the followup message from the one user, the new reply market remains empty. The totals are thus: fifteen Friendster friends written, two replies; eight acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, no replies; fifteen strangers written, no replies (if I keep doing this, I am going to run out of friends of friends--there are only 228 apparently); two profile views.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 12

A search through my hometown back in Southern California reveals an almost entirely Asian set of people. Who are these people? This isn't my hometown. Granted, I know that Pasadena has changed a lot since I left fifteen years ago. Last time I visited, the old Presbyterian Church a few blocks from where I grew up had become a Korean church. I know that when I went to the mall out at Santa Anita, almost everyone there was Asian. But Pasadena, even with the large Asian American population, is still a big giant mix of folks--Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, and us white folk. But whites and blacks are nowhere to be seen on this block of Friendster, and there's only one token Hispanic that I found. Anyway, I didn't write to any of these people--I don't know them. A lot of them seem significantly younger than I am--were these folks even around when Friendster started up? Is Friendster a hip site for young folks and the major problem then not so much that my friends no longer use it but that my friends are too old? If such is the case, then I know where folks will be a year from now. We always copy the young, it seems. And so I'm getting a jump start on my age set. Good for me!

I did get a second response from one of my Friendster friends today, so that's interesting. Basically, she sent me a link that explains why Facebook is for people our age. Sigh. And it is. Facebook is about connecting with people you already know--but forgot about--or so it seems. I also found out that both MySpace and Facebook now offer sections where you can see how friends are connected, similar to what Friendster was doing years ago. But Friendster may still be the only site to show you how you are connected to folks you may not know.

Anyway, today's Friendster contacts ran thus: one Friendster friend contacted and two total strangers (though one is a friend of a friend and one was a deejay I feel connected to because I listened to his voice for years). But other than that followup message from said friend, the new reply market remains empty. The totals are thus ("thus" being my new hip word for the day): fourteen Friendster friends written, two replies; eight acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, no replies; thirteen strangers written, no replies; two profile views.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 11

Today I read a review of a book by one of the guys who started that whole "spontaneous gathering" movement--you know, where a message goes out on the Internet to gather on the corner of Hull and Clayton streets with kazoos at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, and a thousand people show up. Okay, so I'm thinking I probably need to read this book. It's about how trends occur in viral culture, or really an analysis of how that affects our overall culture (it's called And Then There's This and is by B. Wasik). You see, if I sent out an e-mail telling folks to gather at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, the only person that would show up would likely be me. Maybe I'd get one other person to show if I were lucky. That's it. And we probably would look at each other askance, kazoos hidden, wondering, Is that guy here for the kazoo thing? And it's like this Friendster thing. No one seems to want to follow the trend. No one is coming back. Or maybe I'm wrong. I did get one message last night, one friend returned a Friendster message. Incredible.

This means that today's totals now look like this: thirteen Friendster friends written, two replies; eight acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; five invitations extended, no replies; eleven strangers written, no replies. Note that the invitation extended was to someone on MySpace who e-mailed me there. Will he take me up on the offer to be one of the cool kids? Doubt it. He sent me something from the high school newspaper I'd written. How embarrassing. I'm guessing my reaction to this blog may be the same two decades from now. Is someone going to archive this and force me to read it again?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 10

At church, I'm hep with the under fourteen set. Perhaps, this is part of the problem with my appeal to Friendster folks. Maybe, if I were aiming at folks under fourteen, folks would actually talk back--but online friendships with kids seem a wee bit creepy. So I stick with only the adults.

But anyway, one of the things that's got me thinking about the kids is that some of the older ones, the ones turning thirteen and fourteen and going to their first teen dances and uncomfortable about talking to the opposite sex, I've offered plenty of advice to. You know, on how to talk up gals. Most of them don't think I know anything this--yes, even the kids. And maybe I don't. But it does seem to me that if you have trouble coming up with conversation ideas, there are always things you can talk about, things we all have, like our names. So here is the demonstration I gave to the kids about conversation for those having trouble with a topic:

"My name's Jack. What's yours?"


"That's a nice name. Where'd you get that?"

"My parents."

"Wow. That's where I got my name too. I feel like, even though we've only been talking for a few seconds, we have so much in common."

This dialogue establishes names and commonalities, which I think are two keys to any relationship. What guy/gal won't want to spend more time with you once he/she realizes how many things you have in common?

Perhaps, I'll try out this strategy at Friendster, albeit in shorter time. Do you think it will work? I'll have to skip to the third line, though, since that we know each other's names will already be a given. Let's see . . .

I tried contacting two complete strangers and one acquaintance from a long time ago today. I also wrote one of my Friendster friends. The first ten days are done. And so far the totals are as such: twelve Friendster friends written, one reply (I'm going to run out of Friendster friends to write soon); seven acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; four invitations extended, no replies; eleven strangers written, no replies. If one assumes responses will increase exponentially, then the next ten days should include four--that's right, four!--replies. And then eight, and sixteen, and thirty-two. It'll only be a decade or two before the whole world is back on Friendster.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 9

One in eight. That's the number of spouses who met online, at least according to one statistic that I read. I wonder how many of those met through Friendster? I know of at least--a story I read about online. At the rate I'm going, however, that will not be me. Not that I'm expecting love from Friendster. I'm expecting maybe some friends. Maybe?

Looking over the people I know who met their significant others online, I find that in truth quite a few of them have. One former coworker. One grad student friend. Several people from church (people of my faith are few and far between, so online is probably more likely than for the general population, though even among those of my faith I seem to be popular mostly for my messages, if/when I'm popular at all, not for anything beyond that--admittedly I guess there have been a few women who might have taken me had I not gone shy). But certainly, among some of these online romantics, there's a certain hesitancy to admit that one met online. This was the case with this grad student friend, who had created some kind of elaborate story as cover. He admitted the truth to me, though. How many people know the truth? Probably quite a few if he has admitted it to anyone beyond me. As for me, no one who doesn't already know me generally responds to messages, so I really don't know how these online romances even start.

In keeping with that are the totals for today--zero responses, though I did at least get one more profile view--this from a person I know (though haven't seen in probably four years), who didn't even bother writing back! Sigh. Today, I wrote on Friendster friend, invited a new person to Friendster, and wrote one friend of a friend who sounded totally cool (but whose picture is a stick figure, so I really don't know how this person is). This brings the totals to as follows: eleven Friendster friends written, one reply (I'm going to run out of Friendster friends to write soon); six acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; four invitations extended, no replies; nine strangers written, no replies. Sigh. I'm getting tired here folks. Help me out.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 8

It occurred to me today that if even the Friendster folks, with all their minions, can't figure out how to sell their product to my friends and acquaintances, how am I, a lone guy on a computer, to sell their product? When younger, I believed in the adage (book title), "Do What You Love, and the Money Will Follow." The idea was that one's enthusiasm for the task would eventually lead to success. But what if one's enthusiasm is for something other folks have no enthusiasm about? Is generating sales a task of trying to get people to use a product they keep refusing or is it a task of recognizing where the market is and going toward it, whether that be in reconfiguring your audience or in reconfiguring your product? Friendster, I think, has recognized that, and that's why it's so big in Asia. If those are the folks that use the system, then that's where the site will focus (it's even in Tagalog now). And as a result, it has more users than MySpace and Facebook combined--just not in the United States (or probably Europe--I really don't know what the Europeans use for social networking).

So what I'm doing then, taking on this task, for thirty days, of pushing Friendster in my own life, perhaps is some great (okay, maybe less than great--maybe really tiny) tragedy, with me as the tragic star. I am Oedipus. I am setting out to go against the system, to go against what has already been deemed to happen. I am full of pride. I will come to a tragic downfall at the end. I will learn only my own irrelevance. I will not succeed.

Or maybe that it is too dire. Maybe success is right around the corner, and I am starting a tidal wave of enthusiasm, among friends, for the best social networking software of all! Maybe I'm a hero, not a tragic one but one in the best American movie sense. Maybe, when everything looks down, the third act will kick in and I--or rather, Friendster--will come out on top.

Or maybe my enthusiasm isn't great enough. Maybe in that is the flaw. Maybe if I believed more in social networking in general, I would have people screaming (or rather clicking) to get back to Friendster.

Fact is, I don't really know. What I do know is this. The stats for today: I wrote four people (one friend, one acquaintance, and two strangers, one of whom I suspect is a fembot given that she posted a hello in my comments a month ago and has nothing but a pretty picture in her profile). I had no views, no messages, no nothing. This brings the totals to as follows: ten Friendster friends written, one reply (I'm going to run out of Friendster friends to write soon); six acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; three invitations extended, no replies; eight strangers written, no replies. Look at all those no replies (both replies I did get were from men). No wonder I never had any luck dating. I can't even make Friendster friends.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 7

So yesterday, when I was looking around on Friendster, I discovered this great new feature called "Friends of Friends." I'd thought the whole connected-to-you feature had been dismantled, but it still works up to two degrees of separation (used to work to four degrees), so there is, as it turns out, still something unique about Friendster to love that the other sites haven't picked up on (and probably can't for patent reasons). But the "Friends of Friends" page is something else beyond that. It's a page devoted completely to presenting you with a list of people who know your friends, outside of your friends profiles. A great means to go around introducing yourself to relative strangers. Hey, I know blank, how do you know blank? Of course, it's Friendster, so probably these people don't know blank either--blank and they met at some party six years ago, had a brief chat, realized they were both on Friendster and Friendstered each other and have never talked to one another since. Yeah, I have a few Friendster friends like that--and MySpace friends and Facebook friends (okay, in the latter case, it's mostly people I went to high school with who suddenly pop up, add me, and then never say a word).

That is the one thing I can say for Facebook. More than MySpace, more than Friendster, people who previously didn't use social networking sites, or at least people who didn't acknowledge that they went to my little tiny now defunct religious high school, are using Facebook and adding friends left and right. Part of me is glad that there are now ways to track down what happened to Igmar or Sal, but part of me also kind of likes having disappeared and sort of is uncomfortable with people who I haven't seen in twenty years suddenly knowing anything I post. It's, well, sort of weird. (And like, having complete strangers reading my blog is any more normal? I know, my feelings don't make much sense.)

Maybe my discomfort has to do with myself and where I am in my own life. Single. Still single. Probably permanently so.

I know that's one reason why one of my friends doesn't join any of these sites. She's still working on her doctorate. She's embarrassed by how long it's taking. She doesn't want people from grad school looking her up and seeing her. She doesn't want to be part of conversations like this: "Oh, hey, I remember you--we went to school together. I'm teaching at Dartmouth and wrapping up my first book for Penn State University Press. What are you doing?" "I'm still working on getting that degree you finished five years ago."

And I guess that's sort of how I feel. "Yeah, you remember that guy in school who was always really good at homework but not at much else? Yeah, that's me still. I'm still that guy. I work, do a pretty good job at that. That's about it. Maybe I'll lose my job in this crisis, and then I'll have nothing at all to show for my forty years on this globe and I'll be a complete loser." Meanwhile, Ingmar has had five children, written a book on AIDS in the Arctic, and last month traveled to Argentina to see whether she was going to take that position UNICEF had offered her in which she was going to help coordinate an orphan education program (turned them down--Obama wanted her to head up a program like that for Des Moines, which was closer to family and her hubby Roger's home). Oh, and did I mention she's the subject of a documentary to be shown on HBO next month?

This is unreasonable, I realize. People's lives are just that, lives. Their lives likely seem just as humdrum to them as mine does to me. I may not feel successful, but I'm likely not any less successful than the vast majority of people in this country. I'm just part of the crowd. Successful in some things, not in others. Like a regular human being.

I remember a scene in Frederick Exley's Notes of a Fan. It was pretty spectacular. It's a moment when he realizes that he's never going to be one of the football players, never going to be out on the field, never going to be one of the heroes. There's only forty-eight of those (or sixty-two or whatever number is on a team--and only eleven on the field at a time). Most people are just fans. Most are just people in the stands. Most aren't heroes. Most just watch and cheer. And that's what virtually everyone gets to recognize one day, unless you're one of the heroes. (Even then, hero for whom and for what? I couldn't name more than a handful of active football players. And if I were playing football, I don't think I'd feel like I was doing anything particularly world changing or important. It would likely be just a job--albeit one I enjoyed. If I actually enjoyed playing football, that is--personally, I prefer to have bones.)

So today, I took it easy. I didn't get home until relatively late in the evening, and I have a few other things I want to do, so I only mailed three people: a Friendster friend, an acquaintance, and a total stranger. I received nothing in reply, bringing the totals to as follows: nine Friendster friends written, one reply (I'm going to run out of Friendster friends to write soon); five acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; three invitations extended, no replies; six strangers written, no replies. I should also note that I've had one--that's right, one--profile view since I started this whole thing. Come on folks, where are you?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 6

This is a quick e-mail just to bring things up to date. More coming this weekend.

Today, I Friendster-mailed one Friendster friend (it was her birthday, according to Friendster, so that seemed like a good excuse, especially since her e-mail address stopped working a few years ago and I haven't been in touch with her since--but then, I bet she doesn't use Friendster anymore, so she probably won't get her Friendster note either). I Friendster-mailed three complete strangers, though two are "friends of Friendster friends," so I have a little connection to them. And I invited one new person to Friendster, a friend who is originally from Japan. Maybe, because of her connections to Asia she might actually be into Friendster. She might even be on Friendster--under a different ID.

This brings the totals to as follows: Eight Friendster friends written, one reply; four acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; three invitations extended, no replies; five strangers written, no replies. As you can tell, that means there was no action from others overnight. But it's coming. I can feel it. Folks I know are going to start emerging on Friendster like a wave. You know, like, first one, then two, then twenty, then two thousand twenty-nine, and then twenty million. To have twenty million Friendster friends! I can only dream. (And really it would be a dream. Friendster limits you to six hundred. But I'd take that.)

So someone was asking me today how my experiment was going. She didn't know. But she had turned down my invitation to join Friendster, so how could she have known? I told her about this blog. Should I have? She still isn't going to join Friendster. Sad. She thinks I should try to recruit among my friends on MySpace and Facebook. But my MySpace friends are in large part people who either are Friendster friends already or who left Friendster, so I don't see that as fertile ground. I might have more luck on Facebook. But those services don't make it easy--I mean, I can't invite people to Friendster from Facebook. Someone would really have to search me out on Friendster to come over to my side and join. It might happen. Think positive, man, think positive, like Rocky, in Rocky II (and III and IV and V and VI).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 5

Today, I received back one answer to one of my messages, this from an acquaintance who I asked whether I could befriend him. He told me to do so on Facebook, as he doesn't use Friendster anymore. He also said that he was really pretty tired of the whole social networking thing, which I completely understand. After all, in my very first entry, I noted how I barely even use such networks. The real joy used to be looking at the random occasional profile, but now that so many people are moving to Facebook and that feature isn't all that easy to use (the person has to be in your network to begin with and then you have to "poke" them), that little joy is gone. And beyond that, I really don't particularly want to hang out on such a network. I'd rather resort to good old e-mail, or to real face contact. You know, something personal rather than just some five-word message on a board. I'm beginning to really get tired out in my cause to make Friendster great again among my peer group. This is why I would never be good at sales.

But here are the figures so far. Today, I Friendster-messaged one friend, wrote to one complete stranger, and replied to the person who wrote yesterday. This brings my total counts to as follows: Seven Friendster friends written, one reply; four acquaintances written or added as friends, one reply; two invitation extended, no replies; two strangers written, no replies.

Can I keep taking this much rejection? I must. Only twenty-five more days. Twenty-five. Not even close to half.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 4

Once again, no returned messages, and no new friends (though I did at least get a profile view!). So far, for the first four days, I'm running one returned message out of about eight messages sent, with no new friends out of four requested. Is it just me?

I've never been very good at these social things, and going against the trends makes this even harder. Still, the whole Friendster experience has me wondering just what it takes to make something go viral? Just what it takes to make something succeed? How do you sell a new product? How do you sell your self?

This is one reason, I figure, my own writing will likely not ever take on much of a following, just as I've been unable to glean much interest when dating. It was all spelled out when I was about ten--a school fundraiser. Asked to sell candy, one day, I went door to door. We hit up sixty homes. We--my sister and I--made one sale. One. And that from a neighbor we knew. No one else cared a bit. Meanwhile, my friends sold out box after box. How did they do it?

That we even managed to go out one time was a bit of a miracle, though. My parents were never for us "imposing" ourselves on other people. It was only with resignation that my mother even let us go out to sell the candy. When I graduated from high school, I'd bought a few hundred invitations to mail. Not nice, my parents said. People would think I was asking them for money. I ended up only sending invitations to a couple immediate relatives (who did send back money, though they didn't come to the ceremony).

And yet, if there's one thing in sales that I've learned--the only thing in sales that I've learned (because I am not one who has had much success in sales time endeavors), it's that people like things that have to do with themselves. What I mean is that, if I could turn around and market specifically to you--YOU--something about you, you'd likely want it. Say, a song, specifically written for you. You'd buy that, right? At a reasonable cost.

I love it when people pay attention to me. And yet, conversely, I am self-effacing, bred not to draw attention to my accomplishments or to bother people about candy. So this Friendster thing is a bit difficult for me. What's in it for you, right? I really don't know. What's in it for me? Well, if anyone actually returns a message, maybe I'll make a new friend. But more likely, nothing is in it for me. I'm not desperate for online companionship or anything. I barely even use the social networking sites I'm on currently. And maybe that's part of the problem with trying to get people to use Friendster. But by that token, why do people use Facebook? What this massive congregating around it rather than something else? How has Facebook become about "them" in ways that Friendster is no longer?

Nevertheless, I trudge along. Today, I sent out two more messages and befriended one more person, someone I know. Who knows what tomorrow holds?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 3

Today's results: zero returned messages; zero added friends. In fact, I have it on good authority that one person, after getting my invite to Friendster, simply deleted it. "Too busy," she said. Hmmm, yeah, okay.

So today, I've contacted three other people. I wrote to a friend who recently moved from town to find out how he was doing. Sure, I could have e-mailed or even used MySpace, but why not go back to the original network? I'm waiting to hear how he's doing. And reminding him to update that profile.

Then, I contacted another guy I know, asking if I could add him as a friend. I don't know his last name. Shameful, really, since I've known him and his girlfriend for quite some time. But really, we never had reason to use our last names. He likely won't answer for a few more days, since they're on vacation.

And finally, I did it. I wrote to a complete stranger. She's a playwright, so maybe I can learn something about writing from her.

And I invited one new friend. We'll see if he's more kind to me than the other. Somehow, I doubt it, since he hasn't even managed to join Facebook yet.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 2

The results of yesterday's venture into Friendsterville? One returned message. Said friend talked about how Freindster had died and was pretty much a done deal for him--he was getting ready to cancel his account. No, no, no--be part of Friendster's salvation, I told him. Will he comply? Somehow, I'm doubting it.

So I tried e-mail another friend I hadn't heard from in a while. She dropped off of MySpace, where we had also been connected. So this is the only way I have to get in touch with her. According to her profile she lives right here in town, which she hasn't done in quite some time. Anyway, will my query lead to renewed Friendster usage and a renewed friendship? Or will it lead her to cancel her account? These are the big questions.

I'm also trying to invite someone else who talks about how lame MySpace is and how much better Facebook works. Well, what of Friendster? She poo-poos it, but I bet she's never used it.

And finally, I will try to befriend a total stranger. This last part makes me a little queasy. Why? That's a good question. I didn't used to be so shy online, but with age has come a hesitancy to venture out among unknown Internet personalities. I think part of it is the way in which the Internet has taken on a kind of bad name, the way some bars are known for being pick-up joints. People go to them nonetheless, but there's a certain disgust with them. And so too now online contacting of total strangers.

Or maybe it was always that way, but I didn't really care. I did it anyway. And I had success. Some.

When I first came online some ten years ago, living in Fort Worth, online friends were really the first friends I made who were not coworkers in this location where I'd known no one before moving there to take a job. The Internet became a way to finally manage to garner a social life. No longer was I dreading the weekend, looking forward to the week, just so I could have some human contact. Now, I looked forward to social occasions on the weekend. But with time, this too changed. After a couple of years, making new friends online seemed to become harder and harder. The last person I met virtually first, before meeting them in real life, was a friend I made about three or four years ago. Since then, nada. True, I don't spend as much time online anymore. And I have a much wider circle of friends here in Athens, so that the virtual world no longer serves the same kind of purpose. But it's also true that what few people I haven't known that I've written to at random on various social networking sites have not written back by and large. (The exception have been a few who read one of my blogs, who I've ended up becoming irregular penpals with. And maybe this makes more sense. We share common interests, even if not common locations, so the friendships seem more natural.)

Certainly, one thing I had hoped, ten years ago, when I came online was to finally manage to have some success at dating. I did manage to meet a few women, but as in real life, nothing ever worked out. Ten years later, the Internet no longer seems any kind of salvation in that regard. I'm as unlikely to have success there as anywhere, I now know. And in a lot of ways, meeting someone in real life first in preferable--online correspondence is quite different from real-life interaction. Sometimes, one doesn't transfer over to the other, and vice versa. Only a very few friends of mine seem to be as good virtually as they are on the phone as they are in real life. Many only work in one medium.

The one advantage online ever offered me was that I feel much more comfortable in print than in real life when getting to know most people. A case in point would be the other night at a concert. Some woman I've thought attractive ever since I moved here but who I've only met on one occassion (I doubt she even remembers) plunked her purse down on a table next to me and then ran off to dance to the music. I wondered why she would be so bold as to just leave her purse like that, in a place where she couldn't even see it. About an hour later, she returned and accused me of messing with it. Was this her way of flirting? Was she serious? I think it was the former, but even if it was, I had nothing to say in response. All I could venture was a lame, "No, I wasn't," to which she said she was just trying to make things exciting. She then went to get a drink and moved the purse, once she returned, to a place where she could see it. In print, I like to think I could have managed to say something better, to know what to say. Not that that would have mattered much. As attractive as she is, my difficulties with women go far beyond having nothing to say in real life, as my lack of success online shows.

Okay, I just chickened out. I sent a message to someone who's a friend of a friend rather than a total stranger--someone I actually know in real life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Plan

I have one month to make Friendster popular again among my peer set. How am I going to do it? And what constitutes popularity? Both great questions and both questions I don't have ready answers for. But here's what I know of the plan so far, what I can sketch out:

  • E-mail former Friendster friends to say hello and get them using the site again
  • E-mail other friends I know who are currently on Friendster but who I'm not friends with me
  • E-mail a few people I know who aren't on Friendster

These are what one would expect from someone looking to make it on a social network. Are others doing something different, something more interesting? Are there keys to being popular, in a virtual way, that I'm not taking advantage of?

Another thing to do would be to update my profile. Problem: Yeah, so I haven't updated my profile in probably five years. But nothing much has changed. So . . . Guess that's staying the same.

Today, I e-mailed three Friendster friends (I'm down to twenty-eight, after a high of around thirty-five). On MySpace I'm at around thirty friends, around twenty-three on Facebook. Writing my messages to these friends, I'm struck by, well, wordlessness. I mean, what exactly am I to use these sites for? Anyway, I attempt a message. Last login for many of these folks is sometime in 2004 or 2005. Sad. I also added one new friend--we'll see if she accepts (wasn't able to message her because she has messaging off). The job has begun.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The (Re)Start of a Trend

The project starts tomorrow. The project is this: I am going to try to get my friends to use Friendster again. I am going to try to set a trend.

Friendster: it's the granddaddy of the social networking sites. Once upon a time, a ton of people used it. Now, apparently, it's popular in Asia, but at least among people I know, no one uses it. It's a site that is very quiet, full of profiles that haven't been updated in years. And it is sad. Why? I'm not sure. I mean, am I feeling empathy for a Web site? A virtual world? Why? Such seems ludicrous. Perhaps, I feel for the people behind the site, the people who put all that work into creating it and then who see so few appreciate it.

Once upon a time, there were Friendster dates (I never managed to get one, but I knew at least one guy who went on several). There were Friendster parties--print out your Friendster profile and that's your invitation to enter, or find a posting for a party on the board and go. I did meet one person at a party who had shown up based on such an invitation.

Then, people started using MySpace. Eventually, amid the quiet suburbia that Friendster had become, full of empty houses, I made my transition too. One theory is that MySpace took off because Friendster took too long to load, since it took so long to calculate how you were connected to other people (one of my favorite features on Friendster, now discontinued). I'd never had much trouble with Friendster. I had more such problems with MySpace, where each person could personalize his or her page. In that sense, returning to Friendster for a visit many months later, I found the site to be a bit on the drab site--but it loaded so much more quickly. And those personalized My Space pages were, admittedly, sometimes kind of annoying.

Now, it seems that Facebook is the cool site. Why the migration? Some theories: the long load time for MySpace or the amount of spam (first e-mails and then, when My Space solved that problem, "friends" trying to add you in order to get you to come to their mortgage or porn site). But I think that one major reason is likely that Facebook allows people to stay in touch with ONLY the people they already know. This cuts down on the spam and the unwanted e-mails. But it also cuts out one of the things I even bother with social networking sites for--meeting new people. If I can't just look at profiles and see what people are into and come across those who seem like they might make good friends or good virtual friends, why bother with the networking site? I suppose, it's an easy way to update everyone you already know about your life without having to e-mail everyone personally. But that too smacks of a bit of laziness to me. I'd rather get a personal letter. If I don't rate high enough for that, why bother updating me? And if others don't rate high enough for me to do that, why am I updating them on my life? That MySpace and Friendster now offer you the opportunity to keep private profiles have in effect made them all that much more similar to Facebook in this way. The social network is not the interesting place it used to be to surf.

Given the complaints noted above, that I of all people would set out to make Friendster the site to use again perhaps is a little odd. I don't particular like social networking sites. I barely use them, mostly maintaining a presence on them so that, in the rare cases where I do need them, I can put them to use. They are handy in terms of getting in touch with some people I might not have as many dealings with. And it remains to be seen, but I suspect they might be of use when looking for a job (the whole point of LinkedIn). And it might have other uses to.

What then do I hope to achieve in helping to get Freindster up and running again with active users? I suppose part of me just wants to help make the original purveyors of social networking reap a few rewards from their invention. Part of me also wants to see a site I actually prefer to Facebook being used. But I think the largest part of me--and this is the thing I think is likely to be confirmed--wants to see just how inconsequential I am, how beside the point. I don't set trends. If anything, I follow them, and when I don't, as often happens, I simply stand alone. Stubborn in my usage of Friendster, I stood alone for a year after my friends stopped using it, resorting to MySpace one lonely week off work one winter. And ever stubborn, I continue in my preference as Facebook takes on higher and higher usage rates. Am I the loner I suspect I am--the kind of guy who can only get or maintain friendships by following them wherever they happen to go? Let's see. (Or rather, let me see, since I suspect this blog will be followed by only one person also--namely, me.)