Friendster? I Hardly Know Her.
The cute and cuddly idea of six degrees of separation - the thought that you can connect the dots between yourself and all of humanity through six people - is laughable to me now. It's more amusing than the bastard stepchild it spawned, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Why? Because of Friendster, the exercise that uses this premise to enrich the social lives of the online population.
I signed up through an invitation from Suki (friend 1) and after a quick exploration of her page noticed Matt (friend 2). I know both. I worked with them. Talked to them. Ate with them. We're friends. We're connected.
But then it just gets ridiculous.
According to Friendster I am hooked into a network of 9282 people, 9276 of whom I do not know and have never met. I have no connection with these people. Even if I wanted to network with them to get a job, or a date, they would have no relevant information about me. They could not speak highly of me. They couldn't even speak of me. They don't know I'm here.
I even have a friend in my network that I have never met or spoken to: circa1977. Now, this is against "the rules" since you are supposed to actually be friends with the people in your network. But he reads this blog on occasion, is friends with a friend of mine and mixes donuts and beer so it is a-ok with me.
All this has led me to question the validity of the six degrees theory. One could say that social networks work like mechanical ones. The longer the cable run, the lower the signal strength. Eventually it fails because the signal's too weak.
Friendster, you're not invited to my birthday party.