As luck would have it, yesterday Salon and SF Weekly both ran lengthy features on Fakesters, fake personae on Friendster that's driving F-founder Jonathan Abrams insane. Both articles pit Abrams' dream of a controlled, clean, rather mainstream site with the rambunctious Wild West free-for-all that Friendster was in its so-called Golden Age, er, 2 months ago. (Yes, the site has lost some of its charm, though it may just be burn-out on my part.)
Of more interest to me were links to a couple of blogs. A Berkeley [Go Bears!] grad student studying digital social networks and urban tribes puts out this obsessive blog devoted to analyzing Friendster and Friendster-like models. And super-blogger The Gothamist proposed some half-serious (yet insightful) tips on how to write an effective Friendster message (NB: after further investigation, it turns out I once forwarded this blogger's profile to another friendster -- small world). Which led me to this unmissable entry about Friendster power games -- or the childish maneuvers many of us engage in when we see an acquaintance on Friendster.
That post, though, didn't cover the bizarre Friendster power games that spill over to real life. Some examples I've seen first hand (Note: the author does not endorse the petty, puerile sentiments expressed herein):
The Guilt Trip
"Hey, I know you're on Friendster. Why haven't you added me yet?"
What it means: I don't want to lower myself to make a request for the likes of you. But I need to pad the numbers, so I'm gonna guilt-trip you into adding me.
What you want to say: "Because your nasty mug soils my profile, you lame fuck."
What you actually say: "Oh, I've been lazy about that. I'll add you the next chance I get."
"Hey, thanks for adding me. You did request to add me, right?" [Wrong, she actually made the request.]
What it means: You're an insignificant gnat, so it must've been you who added me. Because if it were me who added you, it would mean that I'm even lower than an insignificant gnat, and that just can't be!
What you want to say: "No, actually you requested to add me, you stinkin' loser. You're lucky I didn't make you sweat it out for ten days before approving you."
What you actually say: "No, actually you requested to add me."
"Oh, are you on Friendster? Okay. I'll come look for you."
What it means: Take a hint, bud. We have ten mutual friends. I wrote a testimonial for Tammy that sits right atop of yours. Don't you think I know you're on?
What you want to say: "Sure you will, bitch."
What you actually say: "Oh, cool, man. I'll go check out your profile, too."
In the Vicinity of Non-Friendsters
"So, did you see that flirty testimonial Joe tossed to Elyse?" Non-Friendster who overhears: "What are you guys talking about?"
What it means: Uh oh.
What you want to say: "Uh, it's a stupid web site we're all obsessed with, but we didn't want to invite you cuz you won't look good on my profile."
What you actually say: "Um, it's just a dumbass web site. I don't check it much anymore. A total waste of time."
At the heart of all this social politicking and facetiousness is just a dumb dating website. The apocalypse is near, I tell you.