In the same week it was announced that the cast of Friends would be at least partially reuniting for television, the website Friends Reunited announced that it would be closing.This prompted one of two reactions among that generation of people for whom Friends Reunited blazed a trail in revealing the myriad pleasures of online activity (in other words, the over-35s): a keen sense of nostalgia for the site that first realised the potential in using the internet not merely for email (or porn) but to find former friends and rekindle old flames; and a certain surprise that the website had still been limping on at all in an arena long since reimagined by younger bucks with more appealing alternatives.Social networking was not even a term anyone used, but Friends Reunited grew very quickly to become one of the largest sites in the UK.” It did. In a newly technological era where no one, not even JR Hartley, used the phone book anymore, it took full advantage of the internet's ability to shrink the world until it was within everyone's grasp, and for a few years it managed, organised and compartmentalised our collective memory.Suddenly, all of us were revisiting old pals, if not to reconnect then to snoop.
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In an emotional email sent yesterday by its founder, Steve Pankhurst, to those who had forgotten they ever had an account, he wrote: “In the summer of 2000, we launched Friends Reunited as a method for people to find their old friends from their school days.
The internet was in its infancy and the world was a very different place.
Formerly, the site cost £7.50 per year to use but it was later free of charge.
The main Friends Reunited site aimed to reunite people who had in common a school, university, address, workplace, sports club or armed service; the sister site Genes Reunited enabled members to pool their family trees and identify common ancestors; the Dating and Jobs sister sites linked members with similar attributes, interests and/or locations.