So the other day someone convinced me to check out Friendster.com, which is one of them new-fangled “social network” services. The idea is pretty simple: Fill out a profile that includes your name, a photo or two, and a laundry list of hobbies/interests.
Here’s a picture of my profile (as usual, click for a larger version):
Once you have a profile, you invite your friends to join, which lets you view their profiles. What’s more, you can look at their friends’ profiles, and so on. You can leave testimonials about the person (I copied and pasted a recipe for split-pea soup as a testimonial for one guy), send messages, et cetera. You can also set flags on your profile to let people know that you’re single (or in an open relationship) and lookin’ for a little lovin’.
In other words, it’s all pretty friggin’ banal and underscores how pointless the whole universe generally is.
Why? Because there’s really nothing to do on Friendster or its ilk. I spent a few minutes clicking through pictures of people connected to my vast social web, finding that I could pretty accurately categorize every member of this service, including myself, as either “Goofball” or “Cute Asian Girl”. Once that little exercise had run its course, there was nothing else to do besides send insipid text messages to complete strangers, and I can do that out on the street corner or through message boards. Do I really need to sign up for a new service and fill out tons of personal information again just to ask HongKongKitty243 is she likes the new Justin Timberlake album?
Speaking of insipid text messages, it seems to me that this kind of social networking should really take more advantage of the blogging phenomenon. Because blogs are something I’m addicted to reading. They’re generally more interesting than a list of strangers whose interests include “just chillin’ out with friends” because they provide insight into their authors’ lives, personalities, and interests. What would be cool, in other words, is a system like Friendster that links you to other friends’ blogs (and I use that term generically) and includes the ability to leave reviews, ratings, and so forth.
(I would not, by the way, be surprised at all to learn that such a system exists. Please tell me if it does. I also know that LiveJournal does this, but I’m thinking of something more open and that could include all personal websites and some additional social networking tools.)
Until then, I’ll sit in the corner and mutter my list of favorite T.V. shows to myself.