Dead Technologies: Thank You For Being a Friendster
The dawn of "social media" is something that my generation has had the dubious honor of participating in, and indeed pioneering, since before the term "social media" even meant anything (..still not entirely sure what it means). Over the years, my personal level of participation has been undertaken sometimes with trepidation, sometimes with reckless abandon, but always with willing curiosity.
My family "got" Internet in 1995. Try as I might, My 13 year-old brain could not fully wrap itself around the idea of the web, much less the concept of "e-mail". How did it work? I resolved that somehow it must be a lot like the movie Lawnmower Man.
Having briefly experienced the youthful glee of chat rooms at a friend's house (thank you AOL), my formative years were spent trolling message-boards lying in wait for opportunities to flame nitwitted users to my heart's content. As these things go, the novelty soon wore off and throughout high school I largely relegated my online persona to AIM chats and email. Admittedly, I did flirt with blogging for a bit. First with Xanga, followed by then-ubiquitous LiveJournal, both of which remain surprisingly not defunct. However, my first true foray into the "social" sphere was without a doubt, Friendster.
For a lot of 20-somethings in the early 2000's, Friendster is the original "social network." Long before Twitter and Google+, Friendster represented a paradigm shift in the way we shared information about ourselves and yes, "socialized" on the web. For me, it was the first experience I had with things like user profiles, comments ("testimonials") and friend requests. Nowadays, these features are de rigeur components of any web-community worth its salt but in the heyday of Friendster, it was unprecedented. Gone were the salad days of anonymity and cryptic chat-room handles. Connecting with friends and taking full advantage of Friendster meant the laborious yet self-aggrandizing task of composing one's profile, down to the minutest detail. In college, "are you on Friendster?" became a coded IRL means of asking "is it alright if I stalk you (online)?"
Of course, the evolutionary wheel of social media continued to turn. The friendliness of Friendster soon gave way to the creepiness of MySpace, the upstart start-up which took social voyeurism and exhibitionism to new heights. The cacophony of Myspace eventually paved the way for the non-threatening, corn-flower blue blandness of TheFacebook.com which slowly spread from university to university, and the rest as they say is history.
In May 2011, Friendster was acquired by MOL Global, an international media company based in Asia. Friendster has since repositioned itself as some kind of game-based social platform targeting mostly asian markets. A few months prior, I received an email from Friendster offering me the option to export my profile page in anticipation of an "exciting new Friendster." Years since my last login, it seems I'd forgotten to tell Friendster that I'd already moved on. Like many of my former college buddies, Friendster and I simply have nothing in common anymore. So, Friendster if you’re listening… I'd like to tell you in no uncertain terms-- we're through. Don't write any testimonials, don't message me. Don't make it weird. It was great while it lasted! But let's face it, we've both changed.