The year was 2003. An old friend from debate camp, Elisabeth Reinkordt, (one of the coolest chicks I’ve ever met, I might add), invited me to be her friend on this thing called Friendster. Little did I know that Friendster was the first online social network or that it would spawn a multitude of others surpassing its greatness.
These were the days when most people hadn’t even heard the term social networking. The days before my inbox started flooding with requests to join this and that. Mind you, in 2003 I had barely owned a cell phone for a year. Instant Messaging on AOL was the big thing.
So I joined. And Friendster began consuming hours of my life.
The whole idea of so easily getting in touch with old and new friends you would normally have no other way to reach out to – it was groundbreaking.
Never before had I communicated like this. I checked Friendster as regularly as e-mail. Instead of using e-mail, I could send messages on Friendster. Wow! It was like my personal homepage, with the added benefit of being linked to friends I had met throughout different seasons of my life.
You could post photos. No need to go find an online album somewhere and wait forever for it to load. And more people were likely to see these.
I reconnected with childhood friends and family friends. Upon meeting new people face-to-face, one of us might remark, “Oh yeah, I think I’ve seen you on Friendster somewhere.”
I became a Friendster evangelist, inviting friends and acquaintances, even people I had just met or barely knew. My list of friends grew and grew. They would post “testimonials” (before comments became popular) so others could get to know you. So you could build some street cred.
We lived in fear wondering if one day Friendster would charge for its services. It was so precious, but no way were we shelling out money to keep in touch.
Before long, Friendster crawled to a slow death. College friends were telling me about MySpace and Facebook. Much cooler features. Now, Friendster is as useful to me as the set of encyclopedias sitting in my parents’ house.
But I must give Friendster credit for being the first to rekindle and revolutionize my relationships with old friends.
Read the full story of Friendster’s demise here.
What’s next in social networking?
Have you heard of ning? Are you on twitter? Indians are loving Google’s Orkut. I tried fotolog around the same time Friendster was the rage. Del.i.cious wasn’t really my cup of tea. I haven’t looked too much into FriendFeed, but I should…
What new sites are out there?