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Anti-social networking October 27, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Facebook, Friendship, Social networking sites.

What does it mean to be a friend online? As I have pointed out in an earlier blog post and as I stressed during my AoIR-presentation last week, the concept of friendship has changed. Young people do call their contacts on social networking sites ‘friends’ (or at least Danish youngsters do) – even though the majority of their online relationships or the hundreds of people on their friend lists more resemble acquaintances. This, of course, has to do with the fact that social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Arto use the metaphor of ‘friending’.

Because of the possibility to ‘friend’ every Tom, Dick and Harry it has been suggested that a new trend on anti-social networking is seeing the light of day. My friend Anders Olsen just pointed me towards an article from LabConfidential that mentions an emerging resistance against the concept of friendship on online social networking sites. The Danish article refers to this article from The Boston Globe on anti-social networks on Facebook etc. The article reads:

Now that Internet users have forged online relationships with the people they like, they can turn their attention to shaming the folks they hate.

With Enemybook, a new program that runs on the social networking site Facebook, you can connect to people you loathe, display their photos and evil deeds, and give them the virtual finger.

Enemybook is one of several new online applications developed by computer-savvy twentysomethings who say they are tired of bogus online friendships. In a dig at the notion of virtual networking, they hope to encourage people to undermine, or at least mock, the online social communities sites such as Facebook were designed to create.

Besides Enemybook the two articles also mention Snubster, Hatebook, IFHY (I Fucking Hate You), NoSo (No Social) and isolatr as anti-social networking sites or applications.

I must admit that I had not heard of half of these sites, but I find the resistance against (the popularity of) online social networking interesting. Does anyone know of any Danish examples? I know that the Danish site Narto (now Narro) started as an opposition to the hugely popular Danish Arto, even though it is not an anti-social networking site per se, but advertises on the front page with the phrase: “If you are too annoying for any other social networking site, then create a profile here – and feel much worse” (my translation from Danish)”. According to the site itself, it has more than 50.000 users (Arto has app. 600.000).


1. Anders - October 27, 2007

Rather than being anti-social networking, isn’t this just a twist on social networking? I mean, to change “virtual friends” into “virtual enemies” doesn’t change much about the concept itself. Also, Enemybook is actually just a Facebook app 🙂

2. Malene Charlotte Larsen - October 27, 2007

Hi Anders,

Yes, you are right – in the case of Enemybook and Hatebook, people are still networking – whilst at the same time standing up against the ‘friending’ metaphor. However, in the case of isolatr and NoSo, it is all about being left alone and not networking. isolatr just launched IMolatr – an instant messaging client where you are always listed as “away”. And NOSO claims to offer “a unique opportunity to create NO Connections by scheduling NO Events with other NO Friends.”

On the other hand, the fact that there are social software applications for these things, still makes it social in some way. The real way to do anti-social networking would probably be to stay offline 🙂

3. Anders - October 27, 2007

yeah! An IM that is that list the user as “away”… I think it’s more a statement within the whole social networking realm. Maybe I should get a phone for the office that can’t ring 🙂

4. Jaap Bloem - November 1, 2007

Hi all,

Today at the LinuxWorld in Utrecht, The Netherlands, I gave a presentation on the topic of what I call the “Community Attention Challenge”.
Though VCoPs (Virtual Communities of Practice) indeed can be very valuable, I feel the issue of Continuous Partial Attention / Friendship should be stressed far more.
What I said at the conference about it getting harder and harder to draw real attention in VCoPs was so controversial, one person left the room cursing at me. Great!
Look, for instance Twitter King David Weinberger in his book “Everything Miscellaneous” celebrates the New Digital Disorder.
Well, Disorder indeed, in my opinion it definitely is a Digital Hyperactivity Disorder, which inevitably causes Attention Deficit, if you catch my drift. So: HD > AD instead of ADHD, but comprised of exactly the same words.
For me this is a (anti)social phenomenon which I wouldn’t dare use in its medical sense, since I am not a PhD. Still there is a remarkable resemblance in my humble opinion.
HD>AD is killing for VCoPs and productivity. Basex researched the issue and came to the conclusion it costs US organizations $588 billion a year.
Naturally, I am very pleased to see hlilarious efforts like Enemybook, trying to rdiculize the inflationary value of “friends” and “communities”.

Regards, Jaap Bloem, The Netherlands

5. Are we friends? « your virtual life? - December 6, 2007

[…] googled on the theme ‘relations on internet’ and found this blog. The writer of the blog is dealing with the same kind of questions and themes like we do at GIICOD. […]

6. Anthony - January 15, 2008

This social networking thing is like a fire. It such a phenomenem. Everyone can be connected with everyone.

7. sonal - November 7, 2012

nice post. social networking site is useful because everyone wants to connect with everyone. your blog have a very informative. thanks for posting it.

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