In reading Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage, I came across the following quote:
The demand for photographs is not limited to relations or friends. It is scarcely limited to acquaintances. Any one who has ever seen you, or has seen anybody that has seen you, or knows anyone that says he has seen a person who thought he has seen you, considers himself entitled to ask you for your photograph… The claimant does not care about you or your likeness in the least. But he or she has got a photograph book, and, as it must be filled, you are invited to act as padding to that volume. (20)
I actually laughed when I read this because it reminded me so much of online social networking today. Everyone is so anxious to have hundreds of friends on facebook that it is no longer restricted to “relations or friends.” Acquaintances and even people you meet once consider themselves “entitled” to send you a friend request. But they are no more interested in being your friend than “claimants” in this passage cared about the people whose likenesses they were asking for. Just as photos then were “padding” for photo albums, “friends” today are padding for social networking sites.