Social Networking

Everyone is using social networking sites thesedays. A lot of people using Myspace, Friendster, Hi5 and Facebook just to name a few, boast of having 500 or more friends on their list.

Some social networking users have become disillusioned with virtual "friend"-seekers and are voicing their frustrations in parody sites, such as Hatebook, Enemybook, and Snubster. By collecting "enemies" instead of "friends" they mock the importance that other social networkers place on adding "friends," people they may not know or even communicate with after "friending" them. Enemybook is now an application available on Facebook that allows its' users to maintain an "Enemies" list in addition to their "Friends" list. In a nod to the Facebook "poke" feature which allows users to send their "friends" actions like "hugs," Enemybook offers the "SuperFlipOff!" And in the true tradition of virtual ambiguity, many users employ these applications simply as a joke, so that they now have real enemies and online "enemies."

So far, these sites appear to be a humorous fad of 20-somethings who don't take social networking too seriously. However, as many parents and guardians already know, social networking is a very real and very important part of many teenagers' lives. If this fad catches on with the younger crowd, it may very well open the door for teenage cyberbullies to launch massive online campaigns against their "enemies." For instance, Hatebook users can create and join "hate-clans," such as the "I hate the employee of the month" clan, or the "I hate baby on board car stickers" clan. Imagine how easily a teenager can create an "I hate ---" clan against someone at school. Imagine how fast that could spread. Let's hope this fad remains with an older crowd who keeps it a joke as it was meant to be and make sure teenagers understand the "tongue in cheek" aspect of it.