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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Losing touch naturally was a good thing. Now...

I have received the following legit email several times (paraphrased):
`Hi, I am NAME (A NAME I DO recognize from my past). Are you the same Bill Gasarch who when TRUE FACT ABOUT ME (e.g., `Went to John Dewey High School in the late 70's')
This often resuls in a short email conversation along the lines of What are you doing now?

The notion of trying to reconnect with a long-lost friend may be an alien notion to todays high school kids. They never lose the connection. Its easy to keep up with friends even when they go off to different colleges, and beyond. This sounds like a nightmare--- how do you keep up with all of those people? We are losing a way to drop people out of our lives naturally. Will this result in too many friends? Less really close friends? With Facebook (and other means) you can have 1000 people you call friends. Are they friends? I honestly do not know. I thought the term efriend would catch on but it has not.

On a related note--- how does the witness protection program deal with this issue? I can picture a witness's child refusing to give up their facebook account. Or starting a new one and being spotted.

Then again, you can defriend someone on facebook. Technology has settled an old open problem of Jerry Seinfelds: How can you break off a friendship.

2 comments:

  1. I can picture a witness's child refusing to give up their facebook account. Or starting a new one and being spotted.

    This kind of thing will become much more of a problem once Google starts doing face-recognition based searches (not imminent, but I certainly expect to see that in my lifetime).

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  2. I do not think that losing a friend will be that much different. Facebook just means that you will not lose the address, but the "fadeout" mechanism does not require loss of address, only a shift in one's state of mind.

    What Facebook will stop is the rarer inadvertent loss of a friend, and it will give some "reconnect insurance" in cases where both sides will want it in the future. That's all.

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