Online ‘friending’: Nothing that new

A commentator who used to be a "pre-Facebook teen" makes an excellent point about today's social networking: Things haven't changed much since pre-social-Web days. "Categorizing and ranking friends existed long before these social-networking sites came around," writes L.A.-based writer and editor Sara Libby in the Christian Science Monitor. "Adults baffled by the proliferation of MySpace and Facebook are confusing themselves by viewing the use of these sites as a completely new and foreign phenomenon. Kids who network with friends online aren't affecting their ability to create real, face-to-face friendships any more than typing a term paper affects their ability to address a postcard by hand. Kids are still kids. Online networking is just an updated version of collecting choice yearbook signatures or, in my case, wearing a friend's picture on a T-shirt," Sara says, referring to the "buddy shirts" of her high school years. "It became a status symbol to invite the most popular people from the team to take a buddy pic with you, then to wear that shirt around school. The cooler the people in your picture, the more impressive the shirt was." Now it's online "friending" that allows public display of teens' social status.

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