19 February 2009

Friend Finding

Go ahead, email her.

Filipinos have always liked making friends with random people. I remember living in pre-caller ID times, and having to turn down random calls from strangers ("Puede makipag-phone pal?). I would get ten-peso bills from the store with phone numbers written on them, begging for new voices and lives to peruse.

Then cellphones were born and hordes of folks began sending messages to random numbers, looking for "txtmates". Recently I've been seeing them-- cellphone numbers scrawled along sidewalks, on bus seats, on public restroom cubicle walls. Some have a little marketing involved: "Friends lang" (Just friends) or "Pogi ako" (I'm handsome).

And her too. She must be part of the "Simple Rockers".

In Cebu, I saw for the first time email addresses written on walls. In small towns where the internet has just surfaced, people are eager both to make new friends and to begin actually receiving mail.

It's the same for all the technologies above. People obtain some means to communicate, and then look for opportunities to use them. Think IRC chatrooms, though slower and in public spaces. The motivation mix varies-- trying to make the most of a sunk cost (cellphone unit, email account), looking for love or friends in the face of boredom or migration, plain interest in other human beings, etc.

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