For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there's a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I'd cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, "Am I your friend?" yes or no, this instant, please.Doctorow makes a number of other valid complaints against social networking sites. Here’s the one that irks me most: the tendency of MySpace, et al., to inject explicitness into things usually left comfortably vague. I’d really rather not say who my eight best friends are, thank you, but on MySpace I have no choice. (Some people will even assume a rank ordering within your Top 8.) Embarking on a new romantic relationship? Well, the two of you better agree on the precise moment when you’ve officially transitioned from “Single” to “In a Relationship,” lest you have an embarrassing period in which one of you is officially single and the other officially not. I know some people who now regard MySpace “In a Relationship” status as the defining marker for whether a couple is exclusive. Has your income gone up (or down)? You might want to update your “Income” box. Confused about your sexual identity? Well, when you figure it out, let us all know in the “Sexual Orientation” box.
... It's socially awkward to refuse to add someone to your friends list -- but removing someone from your friend-list is practically a declaration of war. The least-awkward way to get back to a friends list with nothing but friends on it is to reboot: create a new identity on a new system and send out some invites...
Fortunately, MySpace does permit you not to post an answer in some (though not all) of these categories, but even the choice to remain silent is an explicit one. MySpace demands rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty! (Points for the first
Link via Tim Harford.