The Dark Side of Social Networking
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Sign up with a social networking Web site like Facebook or MySpace and it's a frenzy of friends. You add your friends and those friends and their friends. Before you know it, you're back in touch with that kid you knew in preschool.
Well, now a new kind of social networking allows you to list your enemies.
Chana Joffe-Walt explains.
CHANA JOFFE: Ashley Mitchell, sitting in the University of Washington cafeteria with two friends. Okay, you're probably thinking what a loser, right? Only two friends? But it's too bad you're not seeing the MySpace Ashley. She's super popular.
ASHLEY MITCHELL: I have, like, four.
JOFFE: And that's not one, two, three, four friends, but actually...
MITCHELL: Four hundred.
JOFFE: But her live friends here, Melissa Cantle and Jennifer Ross, they each have 500.
MITCHELL: Yeah. I think it's great. I think it's a fun network. It's an easy way to connect with people. And it's such a great place to see everybody all at once.
JOFFE: Ah, the Internet, the great connector. You can meet people, find stuff and comment, bond. It's just full of love.
KEVIN MATULEF: Then maybe there's the right amount of love and friendship but not the right amount of (unintelligible) and animosity.
JOFFE: This is Kevin Matulef, MIT engineering student and chief hater. Matliff, why do you hate love?
MATULEF: I'm certainly not against love and friendship, just against fake ways of portraying it.
JOFFE: Fake ways like listing people you met for five minutes in a bar, or someone you went to kindergarten with. Last summer, Matulef created Enemybook. It's a Facebook application. This way, you can list the people you like and those you hate.
MATULEF: So my list contains Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. I have Voldemort - God, I hate that guy. You know, one friend just (unintelligible) for being British.
JOFFE: One of the first people to sign up for Enemybook was Matulef's friend, Mario Bullimi(ph). Who made the top of his list?
MARIO BULLIMI: Actually, my ex-girlfriend because she prefers room temperature water to cold water. She's actually the first enemy of mine.
JOFFE: Bullimi's another MIT student, can you tell?
BULLIMI: Her logic that you can drink more room temperature water than you can cold water and thus become more hydrated is just insufficient.
JOFFE: MIT boys aren't the only ones drinking the Hatorade, there are other social networking parody sites like Introvertster and Snubster - the creation of D.C. software developer, Bryant Choung.
BRYANT CHOUNG: So right now, the most listed item is George W. Bush, number two is Scientology, and number three is MySpace, Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton, Microsoft and - yeah.
JOFFE: There are others at the top here, but if I told you, I think the FCC would enemy me and this station you're listening to. Some other clean favorites include men who talk at urinals, guys who wear socks and sandals, and a co-worker who's sneezes too many times in a row - oh, and Choung adds one more.
CHOUNG: Car alarms. They're loud and annoying and no one pays attention to them and thus, defeating their purpose.
JOFFE: On Snubster, you can list people and things as either unnoticed or dead to me. Choung says, just like you can rank friends on MySpace, it's important to be able to prioritize your hate. Enemybook's Kevin Matulef says, social networking is supposed to be about getting to know people, making connections. But how much can you know about someone by seeing they have 562 friends, and they like coffee and going for runs.
MATULEF: Sometimes, they dislikes are really more telling than their likes. So - and they're more passionate about it.
JOFFE: Haters are passionate about Kevin Matulef, too - the man who offered them the medium for expression. They like him so much, they're friending him on Facebook.
Chana Joffe-Walt, NPR News.