Farewell old friends (reunited)


So Friends Reunited is closing down. Really did anyone really know it was still going? It had long since been superseded in the public consciousness by Facebook — hell probably even by Peach.

I remember happier times for the Friends though. At the turn of the naughties before social media was anything more than a twinkle in the eye of a few Stanford undergraduates Friends Reunited exploded in the UK.

This was before Facebook, before Twitter, even before MySpace — hell it was even before Friendster. Friends Reunited was the site that introduced non-geeks to the idea of sharing their life online and openly. Sure there were message boards, LiveJournal etc but they were niche and this was mass market. The media were fascinated and there was a ready supply of stories (albeit not always positive) to keep the site in the public eye.

By 2004 the site was being blamed for the raise in divorce rates in the UK (a charge made against Facebook a decade later) and had reached its peak. Over the next couple of years enthusiasm for the site would dampen despite rebrands and TV campaigns and then in 2006 Facebook would open its doors to everyone not just college/uni students and that was that.

The slow demise of the site since then shows a certain masochism from its owners (somehow they managed to sell it to ITV in 2005 for 120 million quid — 4 years later they flogged it for 25 million) and it probably deserved to go out in a blaze of glory much in the way it emerged.

Still for better or worse it was a major stepping stone towards this social media driven world we now live in and for about a week in 2001 it was a lot of fun.

So farewell old Friends — much like the people you reunited me with back then it was nice to know you were there and OK but I never wanted to visit.