September 25, 2004

Friendster Fiendster

Filipinos are simply suckers for new (and free) tools aimed at connecting people. That's why we're suckers for Nokia. At first we're suckers for the beepers, then the email, then the texting, then the phonecam, and now, we have another way of keeping us in contact with our friends and beyond. And that is Friendster.

Friendster is fast replacing the current mode of emailing. More than just sending messages, this internet tool has the capability and culpability of spying and snooping around your friends' current pictures and also searching the countless email possibilities of anonymous users. Before, emails tend to be impersonal and detached, now with this freebie, writing mails now have become virtually interactive as if the other person is actually on the other line waiting for your reply. It's great to have a personal face to a somewhat static feature, but sometimes having one takes away the privacy and discretion of the whole practice. Though it depends on your level of exhibitionism, having your personal photo runs the risk being taken advantage out there. It's a double-edged sword which neither one can extricate the good results with the bad possibilities of posting personal items.

Friendster Online...Posted by Hello

Eventually, such a feature gives rise to a plethora of alternative entertainment such as voyeurism, cyberdating and cyberprostitution. Undersirable as they are or seem to be (according to the norms of idol-worshipping Catholics of the Philippines), they are some of the possibilites that we can think of as a direct result of our innate nature- nature which according to Plato is evil. Yes, man is evil according to the philosopher. Who am I to object?? That fact that we, as Pinoys, are always tempted to abuse and pervert the original cause of Friendster just shows that being evil is in our blood. But guilt aside, this just shows that we are capable of stretching the possible to near-impossible, which is good in a way. We make use of what we have. Innovate!

Though those are some of its peripheral uses, its main purpose is to reconnect. You reconnect with your old high school friends, your college colleagues, your coworkers, your boss, and your family. You keep them in one tangible box where they can be just a click away. The whole thing brings back nostalgia, all those memorable persons who strike a chord in your heart. You'll see your barkada have grown fat, or with children or with flashy cars or with a new beau. The joys of learning that some of your friends have reached the top or have transfered to the US is exhilarating, and the cruelty of realizing that some of those who tormented you in the past are getting their just rewards now is very very satisfying. And contacting them is so easy.

Instead of keeping folders of impersonal emails, you have rather the faces of those whom you consider an important part of your life. The drawback is that people do not check their Friendsters as freqently as they would do to an ordinary email account, so updates and replies can be pretty erratic and unpredictable. It's because for some this is just a fad. But for many, this has become an extension of their persona in cyberspace.

So, is this tool just a passing game of kings and fools? Or will this gambit become a permanent face in the net? Perhaps only time will tell.

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