My Shadow's Bigger Than Yours
Maybe I was being too harsh on Tila Tequila. John Cassidy's article about Facebook in The New Yorker cites sociologist Duncan Watts' view that social networks are the online equivalent of hanging out and suggests that this may be a sufficient business model in itself.
I am still not convinced of their longevity and would argue that this only applies to those demographics where the power of peer pressure and social standing is most keenly felt. Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes certainly leverages that pressure by stating "If you don't have a Facebook profile, you don't have an online identity ... You don't exist - online, at least. ... You need to be on it."
For me, the most telling comment for marketers and those acquiring such sites is made by Watts who goes on to say that " If I had to guess why sites like Facebook are so popular, I would say it doesn't have anything to do with networking at all. It's voyeurism and exhibitionism." That strikes me as a far more fleeting and less cohesive fad than has been assumed and the revelation that the college student backbone of Facebook are rebelling at the extension of the "network" to mere high-school students would seem to back that up. Moreover, the introduction of a limited profile (i.e. a secondary politically correct version) designed to broaden your appeal seems morally dubious.
The lesson of all this? The size of one's shadow may be important at the moment, but it's only cast while the suns shines.