[Facebook] has created an entirely new category of relationship, one that simply couldn’t have existed for most of human history—the vestigial friendship. It’s the one you’ve evolved out of, the one that would normally have faded out of your life, but which, thanks to Facebook, is instead still hanging around. Having access to this diffuse network of people you once knew can be pleasant—a curio cabinet of memories—or annoying; if those good memories get spoiled by an old friend’s new posts; or helpful, if you need to poll a large group for information. But it is, above all, new and unusual.
Julie Beck develops an intriguing thought here: the lingering “hollow shells” of long expired social contacts on social network sites add an entirely new layer to our mesh of social fabric. This is a schoolbook example of technology changing society – without the technological development, this phenomenon would not exist, yet it deeply changes both the experience of the individual and social structure at large.