Everything new is usually old.
My friend Alex Wright (author of the fantastic book, Glut) wrote an interesting piece in the NYT in which he briefly explores the connections between modern social networks and ancient oral cultures. It makes total sense that these quickly growing networks would be tapping into a human drive that of course had to be satisfied by other means in the past (by past, I am referring roughly to the period from the earliest human-like creatures up to and through dial-up net access).
In tribal societies, people routinely give each other jewelry, weapons and ritual objects to cement their social ties. On Facebook, people accomplish the same thing by trading symbolic sock monkeys, disco balls and hula girls.
Imagine how popular a caveman could’ve been if he had started passing out virtual disco balls back in the day.
(I am, for the good of you, dear reader, resisting the temptation to include a “club hopping” line here)