I recently discovered that a friend (yes, you, David) was having an enormous birthday party to which tout le monde was invited – except for me. The explanation was simple: he sent the invitation only to his friends on Facebook, because only degenerates and hermits are not on Facebook. (I may qualify as both.)
The thought of joining Facebook and re-re-connecting with all my friends fills me with weariness and despair. My first social network was Orkut (remember those days, geeklings?) and I was already exhausted before its initial fast burn through the programmer community concluded. Once I thought that OpenSocial would solve this problem by making it possible to export and import my connection data between social networks. Now I’m not so sure.
First, each social network is specialized; e.g., my only up-to-date network is LinkedIn, intended for professional connections. I’d never import that into Facebook, even if Facebook supported OpenSocial. (I’d complain about having to then connect to all the people I knew from high school, etc., but that’s not a problem since I only went to public high school for one year part-time – and I truly, actually, literally, had zero friends there.) Second, a central appeal of joining a new social network is the ego gratification that comes with each new request for a connection. I posit this as a major cause of the continual rise and fall of new social networks. The challenge for a social network is to keep that ego gratification coming, which requires the ceaseless invention of silly new memes to send to your friends (the true purpose of social network applications).
I always worry that I’m beginning the slow slide into technological senescence – “These damn kids! Web 1.0 was good enough for me, it should be good enough for them!” – but in this case I feel confident that I’m just. Too. Tired. To join Facebook. Besides, apparently I will learn about anything important through the Real Life(tm) social network.