The news that Friendster is officially calling it quits may come as a surprise to you—if only because you probably figured they already had. On May 31st, the site will purge all remaining profiles in order to transform into a gaming-oriented social networking site directed at Asian countries.
Personally, I’m a little relieved. I mean, I never deleted my profile, and it’s like the fifth thing that comes up in a Google search for my name—which, let’s admit, is a little embarrassing. Especially given that several my photos on the site are of the “I took this myself, in the bathroom, while clearly trying to look like a sexpot” variety. Oh, the shame of it all!
Like pretty much everyone else, Friendster was my first introduction to the whole social networking platform. I never jumped on the Makeoutclub bandwagon, as I had a rep to protect. I did not want anyone to godforbid think that I had any trouble recruiting dudes to make out with me. When my friend Erika first sent me a “Friendster” invite, I thought it was hilarious. I mean, the name alone! And the very idea! The very idea of having a personal ad for friends! I had friends! I totally had friends! Did people think I did not have friends? Because I did. I had friends. All of whom, within the next month or so, were on the Friendster.
So, out of curiosity, I joined. Pretty soon, I was hooked—hooked on testimonials! See, unlike Facebook or even MySpace, your wall on Friendster was filled with “testimonials” about you from your friends about how awesome you were, or about memories they had of you. Sort of like being able to attend your own funeral but without all the death and stuff. I would read testimonials from boys I had crushes on over and over again to see if there was any room for interpretation of a romantic interest. I’d see my Friendsters in real life and there would inevitably be a “I’ll write a testimonial about you if you’ll write a testimonial about me!” convo. I would go through my friends list and think about things I could say about people I knew that would be nice or especially clever. I took time to think about what I might write. I took time to think about the things I liked about people and the things I remembered them for. It was actually really, really nice.
Also, unlike Facebook, you actually did end up contacting and getting contacted by other people. Granted, most of these were creepy ass dudes who wanted to give you a pedicure, but some of them were super hot dudes from San Francisco asking you to show them around town for a night… which was also really, really nice.
So, once again, out of curiosity, I returned to the Friendster once again yesterday, to the Robyn of 2003. What was the Robyn of 2003 like? Well, she took some awkward pictures, that’s for sure. She watched Passions. She enjoyed badminton, solving the personal ads and listened to a lot of riot girl and twee pop music. She did not like same side of the booth sitters. She had a few friends that the Robyn of 2011 can barely remember. She also had about 250 testimonials. Now, you see, I’m down to a lonely 18. Luckily, some of the especially nice ones seem to still be there.
From My Friend(ster) Ian, which, to this day is maybe one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me:
“OK, admit it: Robyn is pretty f’n awesome. She’s hot, she’s smart, she’s immediately friendly in a way all you lame-ass indie rockers are not, she’s tough, she’s a political activist who does more than you did, she’s honest to the point of being in-your-face, she is a radical feminist who’s pro-sex and not at all dogmatic, she has a great sense of humor and irony, she’s fun and the first to rock out / play board games / watch cheesey horror movies. If you can’t take her loud raucous assault on everything in her way, then yr just dumb.”
And from my Friend(ster) Ryan:
“life would suck without her. i heard this cramps song one time called “dames, booze, chains and boots” and immediately thought of robyn, i dont even know why. but shes definately a real special dame. even tho sometimes i feel like a little brother, she helped me start smoking and curses me for being underage. robyn knows just about everyone in a 100 mile radius. she has the most original style that only she can get away with, try not to stare at her boobs tho, they like to play peek-a-boo from behind her SalvArm treasures. i love robyn, only a real friend would pull over to buy you cigs with her credit card.
See? See what I mean? Awesome. Much more thoughtful than a Facebook wall post. I confess to being a bit of an emotional hoarder. I still have all my old diaries and journals, and a giant pile somewhere of all the notes and letters my friends wrote me in school. I’d totally kill to get all my testimonials back. I’ve copied and pasted the remaining ones into a file on my computer, so that I might remember when I was young and badass and some of the people who liked me for it.
You can’t hold on to things forever, and it’s silly to try. However, if there’s any moral to my story about my trip back to 2003, it’s that maybe it’s nice to let people know that you think nice things about them and to let them know in writing. Which sounds schmaltzy as hell, but still. It’s nice. So, for the past two days I have been writing final testimonials for some of my Friendsters, just in case they go back to check their profiles before the site shuts down. I’ve also made a couple of my friends that I didn’t know in the days of Friendster (like Miss Jenn) become my friend on there so that I could write some for them as well. Some of them have written me some new ones to boot, which I shall add to my file o’ treasures.
If you’d like to be my Friend or Activity Partner before the Friendster Apocalypse, you can find me here. I will totally write you a testimonial.