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Last night I was watching Attack of the Show again and they mentioned a site called BuzzFeed, which picks up the latest and greatest Web trends and conversations and compiles them all with an editorial perspective. One of the trends they had picked up on of late was the rise of “anti-social networking” sites, which are pretty much what you’d think.
Enough people have gotten fed up with Friendster and LinkedIn (and hearing how social networking is the new black) and have formed parodic sites like Snubster, EnemyBook, and isolatr… designed, in the words of EnemyBook, to “disconnect you to the so-called friends around you.”
I suppose social networking was overdue for a backlash, although you probably don’t need me to point out that there’s an irony in connecting to disconnect. Especially if you believe that parody is the sincerest form of flattery (in the world of social media, in particular), then you have to think that the authors and users of these sites are really more interested in promoting an agenda, a sneering iconoclastic stance that nonetheless snuggles right up next to that which it seeks to mock — like Sid Vicious spitting out the lyrics to “My Way” — the essence of punk rock, but knowing all the while that for all his swagger, he was really a pretty boy in an extremely well-marketed boy band.
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Anyway, if you really don’t want to connect to other people, why not just go to the library and bury your nose in a book?
The other interesting think about anti-social networking sites, as pointed out in naturalsearchblog, is their effect on search engine optimization efforts. It undermines your efforts to associate with the “right” keywords if you go and list a bunch of stuff that you hate. (Maybe that’s why Hatebook makes their content pages uncrawlable.) I thought of this same problem once when I was listing all the things I disliked on my personal blog profile… I didn’t want the system to connect me with other people who listed “Thomas Kinkade” or “beer pong” just because I said I didn’t like those things. So I scrapped the list.
Of course, maybe that’s the point of anti-social networking… I can make un-connections with other cranky people who hate the same things I hate. Is it easier to relate to someone about your dislikes than your likes? Hmmm… well, speak ill of Steve Ballmer on any Linux forum and you’ll probably find a friend for life.