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How To Win Friends”¦

By Ma Faiza, who is an international DJ, artist and producer, and is shamelessly passionate about electronic music, its culture and lifestyle.

Rolling Stone IN May 20, 2009

It seems I have more “friends” than ever before. Imagine the feeling of meeting people, many of whom you don’t actually know or have never met, telling you that you are their friend. This happens to me on a daily basis, as I currently have over two and a half thousand “friends” on my Facebook page (and it’s growing everyday) and at my various gigs around the world I continually bump into my Facebook “friends” without me even knowing them before. Welcome to the Facebook phenomenon, the mother of all social networking sites, that’s growing at the pace of a runaway train.

Social networking sites such as Facebook have experienced tremendous growth in the past few years. They’ve developed from a so-called friend community to businesses, recognising the profitability of these niche networks in communicating effortlessly with others in their line of work or outside their industry. For anyone who hasn’t heard of social networking, here’s a bit of information.

Social networking is a relatively new concept in communication that first appeared in 1995 around the idea of people wanting to reconnect with lost friends. Its rapid explosion in cyberspace occurred with the success of Friendster.com in 2002, and subsequently MySpace.com, a social networking website allowing users to create an interactive network of friends, groups, personal profiles, blogs, photos, music, and videos started in 2003, which currently boasts more than 100 million users worldwide. For the music industry, MySpace became indispensable for established artists and new ones alike as it provided artists with a platform to provide free samples of their music, upcoming events and tour dates to everyone. What started out as a place for friends became a powerful tool for music and media artists to market themselves and their products to a hungry, young audience.

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Enter Facebook, which also exploded on the scene in 2004, and was originally started by a former Harvard student as a hobby project. Today Facebook is valued at $15 billion and according to market research is the number one social networking site, with more than 120 million active users.

In India, Facebook is quickly taking over our lives. When we are at work, at home or even on the road, we are sharing our moods, our photos, our thoughts, our feelings and of course, our big database of ever-growing friends. I can get poked, knighted or super powered. I can join mafia wars, sweetest battles, be a tycoon or even a celebrity. Invitations, requests and suggestions descend daily on my page in droves to excite me, tease me or just distract me from the real world and my real relationships.

It can be said that many people now see social networking sites as more of a communication medium than a circle of friends, and in today’s world the word friend has developed from being a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, to someone that you have never met but has access to a whole database of information about you, and removing someone that you don’t even know from your friend list is almost seen as a declaration of war. Every day I receive updates, messages and promotions from anyone who is one of my Facebook friends. I know when they join groups, when they post messages or updates, even when they change their picture or their relationship status, maybe soon I will even know when they change their underwear.

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Communities, groups and friends are today’s buzzwords that redefine the marketing of who we actually are or who we want to be. Wanting to find out where the next hot and happening club event in India is has never been easier, with any club promoter worth his salt building small niche communities for their concepts and events. The clubbing community (and especially EDM) in our busy cities relies on Facebook now more than ever before. I’m sure we can all remember, just a couple of years ago, when we would receive a barrage of texts daily informing us about different club events around the country, but today Facebook has become the ultimate clubbing accessory for clubs, promoters, artists, DJs and even wannabes around the country. It is now the backbone of our club culture, a way of keeping some kind of semblance of a community even if it is virtual rather than actual.

Should we feel blessed to be surrounded by so-called friends, or should we fear that we are losing ourselves, and our connection to the real world? Isn’t it still important to maintain true friendships in the traditional way by spending actual time together, rather than alone in front of the computer?

I think the answer is simple: We all need varied experiences of friendship and community in our lives whether we are comforted by others online or in person. We all wish to be seen, to be heard and to be understood by our peers. We are now, more than ever before, living in a time where we all crave opportunities to see a friendly face and know the silly details of each other’s lives.

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