Why ‘Top Friends’ Features are Really Messed Up


Every morning when I wake up, I think to myself, how do my friends rank today? Because I’m eight years old, having a clearly defined first, second, third (and possibly seventeenth) best friend is crucial, otherwise how will I know who I would save from a fire first or bring on a cruise trip I won from some sort of sweepstakes.

Back when Myspace was used by people other than creepers and ten year old girls who still like to personalize their pages with backgrounds that take six months to load, top friends was an important part of our Myspace experience. And yet, until recently, I’d never really considered just how messed up and weird that feature really was. Facebook now allows you the private option of labeling people as close friends so you’re privy to their every status update, photo upload, and comment, but they never actually try to get you to rank your friends. What even? Why would a website think this was a socially appropriate idea, and why the hell did so many of us go along with it?

At one point, Myspace upped the number of people you could have on from ten to about twenty. What a stroke of luck! Now even more people could feel special and insulted simultaneously! What kind of arbitrary science went into the crafting of a top friends list? I wonder if there was someone out there who actually had an intricate system for calculating who would make their top whatever at any given time. Numbers crunched, charts drawn, elaborate point systems devised, all to make sure his or her friends knew just where they stood and if they needed to up their game. There was no sitting pretty on a top friends list, cause next thing you know Susie gave your BFF a cookie at lunch, and you were bumped from number one down to a close second. John’s your boyfriend and gives you hot lovin’, but Beth gives you rides every day after school. The dilemmas were endless.

I realized my account was probably still alive and kicking, or at least alive and floating uselessly in (My)space. Sure enough, it was still there, a moment of time eternally preserved. Amidst an alarming amount of spam comments and messages were little historic gems. Some of my friends had utilized Myspace’s blog feature and copy/pasted AIM chats that they thought were funny. I remembered when AIM was a thing, I realized that I still type OMG far too frequently, and that Lost used to be something I looked forward to watching on a regular basis. This was a far more innocent time, a time before the Lost series finale disappointed the shit out of me as well as the friend who posted about our Lost marathon.

Seriously, if you want a sure-fire way to totally depress yourself, just log back onto your old account and look at your top friends. I actually goddamn teared up a little remembering some of the people I used to be friends with who either violently left my life because of a big fight, or who I simply drifted from. It’s coming up that I have seventeen top friends, but I’m just going to go ahead and say there are sixteen, because fucking Tom took the liberty of making himself my number seventeen. What a cock. Seven out of sixteen isn’t too terrible in terms of keeping friendships alive, I suppose, but it’s kind of sad to go back and think, wow, at one time so and so was a top friend? I don’t even fucking know if they’re alive or one of my Facebook friends. I think some of my top friends must have deleted their accounts or never had one to begin with because one of my closest friends from basically my entire life isn’t on there. That shit’s fucked up.

It’s bad enough when you’re put in a position where it’s acceptable to rank and be ranked by your friends, but I remember being really alarmed when those rankings would change. Finding myself suddenly bumped down to number four on a friends list when I’d been holding strong for a long time at two made me wonder just what I had to do to get back in their better graces. Getting bumped up, on the other hand, man how rewarding was that? It’s like, why even do nice things for a person or be a good friend when you aren’t going to be publicly ranked and praised for it. Man, why even make new friends when there are so many people to compete with for the top. You had to really zero in a friend target if you wanted to achieve the coveted top five.

Also on an unrelated but absolutely hysterical note. When I logged into my old Myspace account, a piece of completely preserved time, to check out who my top friends used to be I saw they added a badge feature.

Is that supposed to be ironic? Or did I actually join Myspace before that brief, but seemingly endless, period of time when Myspace was cool? Or does this mean they believe Myspace is cool now and that when I joined I was way ahead of the game and not really going along with the masses? I may never know.

I’m just thankful Facebook realized what a dick move the top friends list is. The internet already has a million ways to make us feel terrible, and if you want to make other people jealous of your love for someone, all you have to do is write on their wall all the time like you’re not aware it’s one big performance. That shit’s subtle as fuck. Facebook makes you feel like a ninja about friendship showoffs, but with Myspace you just never had that luxury.

The one thing Facebook doesn’t have, though, is this sick badge system. Yeah, that’s right, internet, I’m motherflippin’ old school. Tell your friends.

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