Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life Without Social Networks

Life with social networks all started from Friendster, well at least for us in the Philippines. I started to have an account in Friendster by the year 2003. I could still remember it clearly, I was doing my on-the-job training at the province, and since we do not have internet connection in the province, I was a bit late from all the fuzz going on in the city. My girlfriend sent me an SMS and told me that I am the only one in our class who does not have a Friendster account, and I can still remember my answer: “Why would I need one, you guys can contact me anytime in my cellphone!” She forced me to better be back in the city as soon as possible and create my account, she said it was fun, we can exchange testimonials for other people to see. I was really against it, I cannot find any benefit from it, so what if I receive testimonials? These things, I told her, they can also tell me when we meet again at the university, or they can send me e-mails or snail mail. There is really nothing special from it. Then came the end of my training and start of my last year at the university. When the classes started, all I can hear from my classmates were, “Hey, you haven’t written me any testimonial yet.” or “You promised me a testimonial, better make it sound great!” Then they all forced me to start my own account. I said to myself, “what the heck, these testimonials are not real, they are forcing one another to write something beautiful about themselves, this thing is totally crap.” But I ate up all my words. During one of our thesis session, and while we were waiting for the experiment to finish, my girlfriend opened the laboratory computer and began creating a Friendster account for me, and forced me to open my email to confirm my membership. During the first week of me being a member at Friendster, I never opened it at home, my girlfriend is the one opening it and confirming friend requests, until one unexpected friend request came and that started my addiction with Friendster. I was a Friendster addict from 2003 until the end of 2007. I stopped checking my account since I started receiving virus testimonials and one of it got into my laptop. However, I was not able to say goodbye to Friendster that easily, though I deleted it, I honestly had 2 accounts. It is because it is the only way for me to keep in touch with my high school friend who is now in Germany, she never called us since she left in 2006, Friendster was our only way to keep in touch with her. Since 2006 until just recently, my second account in Friendster was active, without any real testimonials there to see. I used it only for Ella, that was all. Also, during this time, my eyes were already on Facebook. I think it was in 2008 when I blogged at Multiply that I am bidding my first Friendster goodbye, and told everyone that I am still keeping two other accounts, not in Friendster, but in Multiply and Facebook. I have only started public with my Facebook account that time, hence I announced it and my Multiply. But aside from the two, there is also one network I am tied up with, until now, my MySpace.

I started my MySpace a year after I had Friendster. The same unexpected invite told me about it, and he said it offers the same things that Friendster offer, but is more fun. Honestly, I still have this account, weird but for now, I could say that this is my longest running social network account, though these days, I got friend requests from various indie music groups in the US and Europe. It became more as a viral network for people who are trying to get into the limelight. Most of my real friends there are no longer using it, maybe I am the only one using it as of this time, because everyone is on Facebook.

Multiply, on the other hand, served more as my another blog site. I remember in 2008, I even paid for a premium account there, for the reason that I only wanted to keep the quality of my photos from Germany at its best. I used the most when all I want to do was to blog, and when my topics were a bit private. During this time, I was still gaining friends in Facebook, and Multiply gave way for me to share more about myself to my old Friendster friends who also got pissed off with Friendster and moved on as well.

Facebook, now the leading social network in the whole world. One of my classmates from the University sent me an invite at Facebook in 2006 and yes, I am one of the first people who had an account with Facebook as early as that. I used it mainly to keep a private collection of photos, one option that Friendster could never offer. I was in my darkest days that time, doing stuff I am not supposed to do, hence the birth of Facebook. It is my only way of expressing myself truthfully, without the all-knowing eyes to judge me. Facebook that time was boring. All you can do was upload photos, decide whether you will let the world see it or only for yourself, send messages to your friends and share photos with them. In 2006, I had around 10 people as my friends in Facebook, same people I have on my friends list at Friendster. Maybe we were the same people who got tired of writing testimonials, which some of the things you say are just for sugar coating, sad but true. It was only in 2008 when my Facebook account reached the same number of friends I have in my first Friendster account, and was even able to exceed it. Up to this time, yes, I am still in Facebook, but I am already thinking of saying goodbye to it, the same way I bid goodbye to Friendster 3 years ago. I think their systems are growing old on me. I no longer enjoy what I am seeing and what I am capable to do with it.
Five years with Friendster (plus three years only to check on Ella), seven years with Multiply and MySpace, five years with Facebook. I am tired of all these social networks. Even though I got a chance to get in touch with my old friends from first grade up to my Emerson days, everything just feels like all worn out on me. I am thinking, if I let go of these still existing social networks, how can I keep in touch with my old friends? I don’t know. Maybe I have to start a poll for all of them before I delete it all.

I miss the old days. My life was less complicated and quiet when I was not yet a part of the cyberworld. I wish I can turn back the time, at least ten years ago, when Friendster nor Facebook were still unknown.