When I was a kid adults would always have a book of contacts. It had a few pages dedicated for each letter of the alphabet, and they would write down the telephone number and address of Waldo on the first available slot under W. If they heard through mutual friends or maybe from Waldo themselves that some of this information was outdated they would flip to W and change it.
The contacts list in my phone was my equivalent. And after switching phones a couple of times and losing it all I moved it to the sim card instead. Then, inevitably, I had to get a new sim card for the phone because it only had room for a version smaller than my pinky toe nail. But I didn't actually care right then. Getting a new phone with an empty contacts list felt like a fresh start. Very soon that list was repopulated with the information for the people I actually talk or text to. And now a few years later it's again filled with numbers from the parents of some child that went to the same daycare as one of mine 7 years ago, even though we haven't talked since. Which of these people will I never need or want to contact again?
My friends list on facebook proved to be far more persistent and much easier to expand. I had hundreds of people on there without having ever sent more than a handful of friend requests myself. People just wanted to add me and it felt rude to decline. Went to the same student union meeting once? Add. Met in the pub? Add. Had a mutual friend? Add. Because god forbid that there would ever come a day when maybe under some circumstance they might want to perhaps contact me and couldn't find me at a moment's notice. Or maybe they'd want to see the baby kids that I would potentially post a decade later (I never did).
Contact information is information, and just like so many other types of information these days we're afraid to lose it. We hoard it, or at least I know I often have. And it needs to be kept up to date, preferably in real time or near it. That paper contacts book? Too hard to keep up with hundreds of people in that. But a social network? Wow, that just does the job for you. You just need to keep your own profile up to date like everybody else does with there's.
And if you leave you lose all that information, the same way as you would if you tossed your entire business card collection that was meticulously accumulated over the span of almost two decades!
But you never got around to actually calling Waldo anyway, did you?
-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal