I thought that I had understood the type of people that go on social networking sites like facebook, and decided that I wasn’t that type of person. I’ve never been particularly sociable, preferring to keep a very small, core group of close friends and a wider circle of acquaintances and friends of friends, etc, what I used to call the atomic theory of friendship (i.e. each atomic shell outwards holds more people but at a lesser level of regular contact).
But facebook uses every trick in the book to encourage you to add more friends to your profile;
Firstly, it recommends people to add to your network that have your friends in common.
Secondly, there are the networks; based upon your school, work, ‘fan of…’, etc, you suddenly find old school friends or work colleagues adding you.
Your front page is a consolidation of the ‘status updates’/posts of you and your friends, so comments from a friend’s friend on their posts may lead you to add that friend’s friend to your network so you can have a more direct dialogue with them.
And then there are the games. They all use a similar, simple formula that encourages you to spend more time on them and gives you advantages for having more friends playing in your group, constantly encourage you to add your friends to your ‘team’ that are already playing, invite friends in your network that aren’t playing, and send updates to your friends directly or via your profile when you achieve something in-game.
It’s interesting to watch yourself growing your network well beyond your normal circle, and to see people on there with 200+ friends, people using it as a pseudo-blog, posting updates from their phones, etc. It still feels like the ‘dark side’ to me though 🙂