Tuesday, December 23

UK The Time and Friendster

A good buddy of mine who's now based in London (God bless u Dina...u know i love u :O ) sent me this column from one of the leadin papers in UK, The Times. I thought i should share it with everyone coz it's absolutely the most HILARIOUS column ive read in a long while. I had to pick up all the bits of food that fell out of my mouth when i first read it. Ive watched the first season of Six Feet Under on DVD...and i must say that it's simply brillliant...and in case ya wonderin why the protaganist used was Kevin Bacon....think "Six Degrees of ........." (lol)...A month down the road it's still as funny as ever....columns like these are destined for stardom....simply classic....:)

Surely Kevin Bacon must be among my 192,867 close personal friends
By Caitlin Moran (The Times – Thursday 30 October 2003)

I have 192,867 people in my personal network of friends, as calculated by Friendster.com. Or, to calibrate those figures another way, I have frittered away nine whole working days since August on another silly website that has not improved my life, my soul or my brain a single ounce but has instead led to hours of fretting that 192,867 close, personal friends are not enough, and to wonder if, technically, the lead singer of Travis would count as a friend because when I interviewed him he tried to kill a bee in front of me, which proved to be an unexpected intimate act.

Friendster is the new internet craze: it now has 1.5million users and is apparently expanding at a
rate of 20% per month. It is the online version of 11-year-olds with broken arms getting lassmates to sign their plaster. You register with Friendster and get a page of your own, where
you lie to impress about your favourite books, TV shows, music, etc.

For instance, I have pretended that Six Feet Under is my favourite TV programme, when in reality I just spend all day watching documentaries of difficult births on Home & Leisure. You then emailyour friends about your page and encourage them to contribute testimonials explaining howgreat you are. Your friends then subsequently tend, excited by the obvious and potentially endless time-wasting possibilities, to sign up and get a page of their own, in order to gain reciprocal testimonials of greatness. Before you know it, everyone you have ever met is demanding that you tell the world how wonderful they are.

Poor Jonathan Abrams. I should imagine that when he came up with the idea of Friendster, he
envisioned that the testimonials would be along the lines of: “Karen has inspired my two children
to stop their part-time drugs muling and get a basketball scholarship. Nothing is too much
trouble for a friend.”

As examples of how quickly a noble idea can be ruined with a quick influx of the wrong clientele, however, testimonials from the assorted pages of my acquaintances include: “Greg is a wonderful person to chaperone on a date. Especially when he tells the prospective life partner that you once paid for a male prostitute.” “Paul is the first person I call ifI have a problem. Actually, no, he’s the fourth or fifth, BUT he IS the first person I call if someone else has aproblem. There’s nothing we like more than laughing at another’s misfortune. Especially if they’re fat or of indeterminate origin.” And “To meet Sarah is to able to sleep with her almost immediately.”

Of course there is nothing new about prompting your friends to tell you how great you are. The
Victorians went through an almost identical fad, but their testimonials used to be collected in
ornate autograph books. Friendster, in the spirit of progress, does it on a page with pop-up
adverts for personalised hooded sweatshirts. In a similar vein of progress, Friendster offers
almost unending networking potential. I can access my friend’s pages, obviously, but also my
friend’s friends’ and my friend’s friends’ friends’, and so on unto my personal network of
192,867, all of whom I could theoretically tap for work and/or sex. And while 51 of the 192,867
are Thai prostitutes from the same brothel, all of whom signed up to make “Western friends”, and whom I desire neither work nor sex from, populist statistical lore has it that at least one of the other 192,867 must be Kevin Bacon, whom I do.

Of course the ability to discover if you are connected to someone famous, however remotely, is
what leads to Phrase Two of Frienster addiction: staying up late one night typing “David
Bowie”, “Stephen Hawking”, and “One of the Rothschilds” into the Search Users facility and
hoping that they are practically family. Sadly typing “David Bowie” and discovering that there
are ten “David Bowies”, one of whom has two David Bowies as his friends, and has put under the entry for Favourite Book, “No need to read: I’m David Bowie”, is the first stage of being cured
of Friendster addiction.

My friend Charlie rang me up hugely excited that he was connected to Donatella Versace, Niel
Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys and Grace Jones. “We’re only 11 people away!” he squealed. “Shall I get Neil to DJ at my party?”It was left to me to point out that Grace’s picture was a publicity still from the 1986 film ‘A View To Kill’, Donatella Versace had a testimonial from Zsa Zsa Gabor praising her for “chaining the servants to the railings and hosing down the ugly ones”, and Neil Tennant’s entry for hobbies read “domino dancing, being boring and not going out with West End girls, as I am a gay boy”.

“So the Grace Jones one is probably a fake, then?” he asked, still clinging on to hope.

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