My Own Private Guantanamo

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On Friendster, no one can hear you scream.

November 18, 2010

Attention deadbeats and dissidents, your days are numbered on Facebook. That’s because the world’s fifth largest country is crawling with debt collectors and the Feds are banging on Zuckerberg’s backdoor. Soon, it will be impossible to tend to your digital farm or “like” your friend’s baby photos, without tripping over a G-Man or a collection agent. Oh yeah, and Facebook is killing your marriage. Go ahead. Deactivate. God commands it.

You don’t have to abandon social networking entirely. There’s a place for those who like to hide. It’s called Friendster. No one will find you there. Trust me. Wikipedia informs me that Friendster “has over 115 million registered users and over 61 million unique visitors a month globally.” 90% of its users live in Asia. But where are all these people hiding and what on earth are they doing on this charmingly inept, bug-ridden website?

For a Western user, Friendster is a ghost town. It’s a sensory deprivation experiment. If Facebook is high school, Friendster is a special education class. To start and maintain a profile there is to relearn the most basic of online tasks. Where are my pictures? How do I comment? Why does the word “search” remain in the search bar while I’m typing? There are traps and pitfalls throughout.

There are dead applications, dead fan pages, and most of all dead profiles. Lots of them. I like poking around in the empty cells and marveling at how much has changed since 2005, when Friendster began its rapid demise. Our online selves were so much more innocent then. A Friendster user never had to worry about porn spammers, CIA recruiters or Tila Tequila. Friendster was the equivalent of your high school yearbook, a place to scrawl exhibitionist “testimonials,” post pictures and ironically befriend Fakester avatars for GG Allin, Sigmund Freud and cheese.

All of that is still there, but Friendster doesn’t look like you remember it. In 2009, they got a new owner and a new design. And it sucks. If this is their plan to take Asia, they might want to at least fix the game app. As for me, I kinda dig Friendster’s user unfriendly interface and the solitude it provides me. If you’re looking to hide away from the FBI, the CIA, Chase Manhattan or Tila Tequila, it’s a pretty good place to hang out. And pretty soon, I’m gonna post some pictures of my cat, to spruce up my cell. Come by for a visit.

  • fursty

    friendster should go completely user-unfriendly and operate by command-line interface.

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