There was an interesting article in InformationWeek about how social networks are built to self destruct. Then over at CrunchGear there was a funny comic strip and some additional comments on the topic. Cory writes:
Emails from Facebook aren’t helpful messages, they’re eyeball bait, intended to send you off to the Facebook site, only to discover that Fred wrote “Hi again!” on your “wall.” Like other “social” apps (cough eVite cough), Facebook has all the social graces of a nose-picking, hyperactive six-year-old, standing at the threshold of your attention and chanting, “I know something, I know something, I know something, won’t tell you what it is!”
. . .
Having watched the rise and fall of SixDegrees, Friendster, and the many other proto-hominids that make up the evolutionary chain leading to Facebook, MySpace, et al, I’m inclined to think that these systems are subject to a Brook’s-law parallel: “Adding more users to a social network increases the probability that it will put you in an awkward social circumstance.”
And the comic on John’s post has a character telling a “real-life” friend that he’ll get his online friends to lend him money and help him move.
This is funny for me because Facebook has served some great social purposes for me. Through Facebook I was able to see that a friend was in need of a ride to my neighborhood and was able to lend a helping hand. Because of IM and Facebook – and social networking in general, I met a friend who helped me move before we even met in person.
Yes, I agree that Facebook leads to uncomfortable situations – people asking to be your friend when you don’t know them – or don’t want to be found – but I think it also has redeeming qualities. It’s a great way – the only way – I can keep up with librarian friends from across the world without running up a $200 phone bill.
I have no problem hitting ignore when someone sends me a friend request without explaining who they are – I also have no problem ignoring people’s invites to install applications that I don’t think are going to add to my online experience. Think of these sites as communication tools – ways to keep up with people you don’t get to see on a regular basis – and ways to meet new people who might actually be able to help you move or give you a ride when you need it 🙂