Friendster was/is supposed to be some great example of ‘social software’ – the idea being that honest, clear-thinking folk will sign up – craft an honest profile – and then invite their friends to join. Their friends will – in turn – invite their friends until you have a trustworthy hodgepodge of folks who share a common link.
Bullshit. Here’s my Friendster saga: I joined and sent the spamish invite to all my friends. Seven of them joined up. And there we sat for months, just the eight of us, wallowing in our anti-social morass. How sad is that? I’ll tell you: on Friendster you can only search out people that you are connected to through your ‘friends’. I signed up seven friends and they signed up ZILCH, so any search on Friendster for interesting souls yielded NOTHING except the profiles of the other seven losers that I already knew. Humiliating. So Uncle Chris, being the determined go-getter that he is, decided to take matters into his own hands.
First off I went in search of Friendster users on AOL by stalking them via the Members Directory. Then – in what may be the single most pathetic feat in Friendster’s history – I crafted a form letter begging folks to add my sorry Gang of Eight to their networks. I sent the letter to over 300 folks and got ONE poor girl in Florida to add me as a friend. The results? My ‘network’ jumped to over 60,000 folks. We had arrived. Here was our ticket to the show. One of the Gang Of Eight even got laid.
Next up? I searched that 60,000 folks for anyone and everyone from Birmingham, Alabama and sent THEM a form letter full of ‘Birmingham Friendsters Unite!’ propaganda. Another round of fish in the boat. Our network crossed the 200,000 mark. Now we were on FIRE. Straggling Usual Suspects began clamoring to join.
It’s October and we are over the 450,000 mark and growing. I get new invites every week. I can search Friendster from my community and find freaks as far away as Bali.
And so? I have – through beautiful manipulation – crafted an online community that is just as alien, fake, terrifying and closed to me as the one that I live in offline. Neat trick.
Footnote: If you want to add me – send the invite to the email address here.