Facebook, Linkedin, flickr and MyBlogLog: Dealing the digital dance cards

Coming back from a weekend on a friend’s boat (and hence unplugged expept for my PDA), I go to check email, read news, and do some blogging, but I soon realize a 4th activity has entered the lists: dealing with a responding to the messages, friend requests, updates, new data and so one that my social networks generate.
I ask myself How can it be that applications with fairly narrow values can generate so much activity? and I realize it’s two things:
1. Digerati like many of my friends emulate each other and don’t want to be left out–we tumble from one app to another and there’s always an investment cost while we’re in the early stages of setting up the most current YASN or maybe next big thing.
2. Filling out profiles, adding photos, adding friends and sending messages via social network systems has become the digital equivalent of the late 19th-century’s dance cards–Just like the young ladies out in good society in Boston and New York at the turn of the century who wanted beaux to claim dances with them waay ahead of time—we want to feel that our inboxes are filled up with notes and message from our compadres–and that we’re the belles(of both sexes) of our digital balls.
In other words, a new activity has entered the lists: seeing who’s added you, sent you a note, changed their profile, etc.–usually fairless pointless data that serves the purpose of making you feel connected to your digital community–but accomplishes little else.
The funny thing, for me, is how enjoyable these little activities are–just like running into friends at the co-op, or the coffee shop, the messages on these services offer casual ways to check in with people and have some approximation of what they’re up to–especially the ones who don’t blog.