Would You Join an All-Jewish Social Network?

How geeky and sixth-grade USY nightmare does that sound?

Okay, so Facebook is collecting your private data. And it’s going to use it to sell your contact information to marketers. Who didn’t know that already, or at least suspect it? When any automated website asks you for your five favorite bands, it doesn’t want to know in order to agonize about how cool Regina Spektor is with you. It wants to sell you other music that sounds like Regina Spektor.

vampire freaksI was just convinced by my friend, music recommender, and sometime Internet guru Joshua Gee to join VampireFreaks.com. It’s a social networking site for goths — yes, I fly that way sometimes, and I’ve got my own set of fangs to prove it — and, over the past two years, it’s been proven to be wildly popular. The advantage that Facebook has (that is, it includes everyone in the universe is also a disadvantage, and we can already see the results of it: Every time someone from one of my former lives has friended me — or, worse, sent me a long and detailed personal message — and it’s been a person that, if it’s all the same, I’d rather keep in my former life, I stay away from Facebook for a few days.

If, on the other hand, I join a website that fits with my individual identity or my musical tastes or my personal convictions (vegetarian networks, for instance), I can limit myself to associating only with people who I’m actually interested in and care what they have to say…and I’ll feel like my ad money is going to people I support (in this case, goth geeks) instead of Mark Zuckerberg, who I just feel kind of gross about at this point.

In addition to VampireFreaks, there are social networks for Christians, vegetarians, and even pets. So why haven’t Jewish social networks ever taken off?

A rudimentary Googling shows there’s no shortage of Jewish social networks. So why isn’t anyone signed up on any of them? Instead of those (shiver) USY reunions being held on Shmooze.com or JewCrew.org, there are Facebook groups for the upcoming tenth reunion of National Convention ’02 with literally hundreds of members — and you know that all those ex-teens getting together is just going to inspire another round of old photo albums, bomber shots, and messy hook-up sessions, followed by another ten years of practiced Facebook avoidance.

Is that the real reason that Jews don’t join Jewish social networks — because they’re so small, you might actually have to run into someone?

For my own part, I’ll save my Jewish networking for the same user-platform my parents are on — the local synagogue — and use social networking for the things that I really need computers for, like writing protest letters to congressmen and finding new music. In the meantime, if anyone comes looking, I’ll be on Vampire Freaks. Want to join my cult?

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