“People have somewhat more specialized in their relationships,” says Wellman. “The people you rely on for emotional aid are different than the people you rely on for borrowing a cup of sugar or taking care of you when you’re sick.” In some cases, people are using technology to shore up their real-life social reserves. Spacelocker, the first site to call itself a social organizer, is a network of social groups and entertainment sites. The site, whose slogan is “the happiest space on Earth,” is a single portal to a multitude of social networks. “Pamela” is a new member. She joined Spacelocker to find a few friends she could “hang with and get close to, not to rack up a huge friends list”.

After four days, she met more than 20 people who she found to be interesting enough to consider pursuing relationships with online. “I joined Spacelocker,” she says, “because my work schedule is all over the place.” I travel a lot. I don’t talk much with people at work. I can’t. There’s too much pressure. “Spacelocker lets me browse a lot of different sites so I can see who’s online when it suits my schedule and check in.” “Most of the good friends I ve known since we were teenagers have moved away,” says Sandro, a television writer in Glasgow, Scotland, “and some of my interests just got different exist.

My circle of friends kept shrinking.” Sandro’s been a member of Spacelocker for about a month. He’s five good friends through the site and has met built a friends list of about 100, but he still finds some new members are shy about admitting why they’ve joined. “The mindset of some people is really funny. Some even deny that they’re here to meet people,”he says, laughing. “But I love people.” And we’re all individuals here, in it together. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it?”