Letters to the Editor

Week of August 27, 2003

The Unbearable Unfriendliness of Friendster

Between the sheets: Yes, many of the fake profiles on Friendster.com are more interesting than most of the "real" profiles ["Attack of the Smartasses," by Lessley Anderson, Aug. 13]. Yes, the fake profiles often do represent a legitimate social hub. Yes, Friendster.com's creator, Jonathan Abrams, does appear to be an arrogant pill. But the "fakesters" behind these fake accounts really need to turn off the computer, go into the room with the big blue ceiling, and really, really, really get laid.

Eric Johnson
South of Market

Improper application:I've used Preparation H to reduce the puffiness under my eyes. The last thing I need at that desperate moment is the manufacturer coming into my home and snatching the product from my medicine cabinet because its intended use is for my anus.

What's worse is that Jonathan Abrams' team is so overzealous in their site-sanitizing that they make errors, aka commit censorship. For example, Friendster removed renowned San Francisco artist Jim Winters' self-portrait from his profile -- certainly more people can identify Winters' artwork than a picture of his face. Friendster's deletion of this image and countless other hilariously entertaining "fakester" profiles illustrates the site's failure to understand how savvy intellectuals and creative types connect in this medium.

I predict a failure for both the company and for Abrams' love life.

Clifford Roxburgh
New York, N.Y.

Smart folks need a better site: I loved Lessley Anderson's super-cool Friendster article. Thank you for it.

The heavy-handed Friendster management is doing us all a favor by highlighting the need for parallel systems for other purposes. I'd love to join a Friendster-like site that encourages creative users to explore new ways of finding common ground and common projects. (See www.tribe.net for a group that's already doing this, and becoming a gathering place for ex-Friendsters.) Friendster gave us a proof of principle, but one big network for all the users is not going to work.

Recently I proposed social-network software to help in fund-raising for fighting AIDS in Africa and elsewhere (www.communicationpractices.org/aidsnetwork). People anywhere could start with the experts, organizations, or celebrities they trust, see whom those people recommend in the field, explore these trust networks at their leisure, then click to donate money where it can do the most good -- in some of the best health projects even in remote villages unconnected to slick, high-overhead Western organizations.

Such a system wouldn't be Friendster even if the software were the same, because the users will have come together around a different purpose.

John S. James
Philadelphia, Penn.

Love me, I'm phony:The fakesters raise very interesting commentaries on how vapid and superficial online dating services can be. Here's a fakester I created, which I plan to post on online dating services like Matchmaker.com, etc., just to see what kind of response I'll get. It will be interesting to see if I'll get any dates out of it.

FAKESTER

Hi! I'm a stereotypically desperate single woman. I joined this site because a) I'll do just about anything to get a man, and b) my parents and friends put me up to it. They've been making trite demands on me to find a husband.

After you've reached that "certain age," you realize that everybody else's opinion of you is always more important than your own. I used to be more independent, but I've now seen the error of my ways; especially as it becomes harder to meet that special someone as you get older.

What am I like? I will try to make myself sound as generic as possible so that you'll feel comfortable. I know that too much creativity and individualism can turn off lots of people in the singles scene, especially shallow, self-absorbed "players" that only want to sleep with you and leave. I enjoy walking on the beach and can go from a pair of sweats to an evening dress. Isn't that amazing (even though changing clothes is something anyone can do)?

What type of guy am I looking for? Someone my mommy and daddy would love: good-looking, clean-cut, often wears suits, makes lots of money each year. Doesn't matter if he's not a nice person. As long as I can please my parents, friends, and society by having an "eligible" man, that's all that counts.

What can I offer you in return? Since you would probably hate me if you knew the "real" me, I will hide all traces of my true self and be the bimbo you've always dreamed of. I will tease my hair and get implants. I will play hard to get to keep you "interested." I will whine if you don't call me. I will be so stereotypically female you will feel at ease with me and know what to expect. I will do everything I can to massage your ego and not to be a real human being so you won't have to treat me like one.

Interested? Call me. I'm dying to hear from someone who wants to play games as much as I do.

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