06 January 2009

Social Networks

I suppose most of the people here have heard of social networking sites, such as MySpace and Friendster and Facebook. You know, those sites that allow you to have friends, and link them to your own account. I suppose I didn't see the value of that until recently.

It was the case that I was one of the late ones in establishing a social networking account. I remember back in 2004, when I finally opened a Friendster account. The main reason was because once, upon coming back from Cuyo to do fieldwork, I boarded this bus that would take me to my house. I met a former classmate of mine back in high school, and we chatted for the whole time while I was in the bus. And I asked about the other folks, how they were doing, and so this friend of mine told me that I could find everybody in Friendster. So there you go, I signed up.

3 years later, I found myself living in the United States, and a different social networking site crept up into me. I signed up for Facebook, and found that most of my friends are there as well. I then decided to shift all my activities to Facebook from Friendster, given the fact that I like the mechanisms of Facebook better than Friendster. Friendster was just too cluttered, the backgrounds are all different depending on the user, and navigating the whole thing was just a pain. But mostly, the main reason why I shifted to Facebook was because of the unlimited number of photos that I can upload. I keep all my travel photos there now. Back then, Friendster only allowed me to upload a certain number of photos. I think they revised that recently, but still, there are more incentives to joining Facebook. So I established my Facebook account and closed my Friendster account.

Now, people would ask why you would have friends on your account, when you see them in real life? True, I give you that, but there are times in which people from the past would be active in the present again, and wonderful things happen.

In fact, if not for Facebook, I would not have met a good friend of mine from Japan again, in New York City nonetheless. Social networking sites allowed me to keep track of how my friends from all over the world are doing. I just got contacted by someone a went to college with, who is now living in Bogota. I also just learned that a friend of mine I went to high school with in Guam is now going to be a father. I few months ago, I learned that another friend of mine who was originally from Belgium who I went to school with in Osaka got married, and is now living in London. I also am being kept updated by another friend of mine who currently lives in Israel about the number of rockets that Hamas has fired into Israel.

However, the main point of this entry is not to advertise social networking sites, but something else. The other day, another friend of mine and I had a conversation about friends and inner circles. The fact that we live our lives one page at a time, and that people come and go to our lives. The thing is, we have a common friend, from Kuwait, who seemed like he fell from the face of the earth. Yeah, one year, he was inviting me to his wedding in Kuwait, the other year, he moves to London and disappears completely.

People don't want change. But change is inevitable. So how do people keep track of people from the past? The other day, I looked into my email inbox, and found a few emails dating back in August. I figured I better respond to them and tell them how I am. In that way, the relationship is kept alive. I mean, what else can one do, if one is now living in a different part of the planet? I wrote to another friend of mine, who I went to college with, and is now living in Switzerland, and updated her with my life. I suppose I do these once-a-season emails, because if I contact them more frequent than that, I might as well give them a link to my blog, and if I contact them less frequent than that, then obviously the familiarity fades to black. I suppose we have to thank technology for making this possible.

(The Mansion, from my Mount Vernon Series)

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