The phenomenon of social networking has been around since ages. Some of the most helpful people in the latter phase of a person's life turn out to be school chums from really a long time back.
Social networking is also one of the most popular systems behind the whole concept of the 'arranged' marriage in India. In the 90's it was still in its nascent stage,but today with the advent of the internet it has taken off in a BIG way.
Orkut is one of the most favored sites among the several contenders for the title of the best social network website. I was a late entrant to orkut and was sent an invite by someone who probably couldn't stand to see me absolutely ignorant about the most 'happening' activity around. But I have to admit that it did get me hooked immediately.
Orkut also helped in a big way when I was leaving India for my MS.Meetings could be fixed up easily now(Am sure members of the group UMR Fall 2006 will testify for this.) Also it helped to get in touch with people when I moved recently to Texas.
But then there are vices as well of this service. Most countries in the middle east have blocked orkut and other sites. Consequently people found a way around them by utilizing proxy servers. But the tug of war between censorship and the people is still on.
But orkut is just the tip of the iceberg. I have been getting invites to numerous sites now. During my days in Rolla I had created an account on facebook as well, but hardly ever used it as most friends in India were mainly on orkut and facebook was primarily an american campus thing.
I began to use facebook now again and hope that it is one the last services I sign up for. Getting in touch with friends is fine but the pain is later keeping track of them. Slowly it starts affecting a major part of a person's lifestyle as well. I know people who have made and deleted their orkut accounts several times just because it was turning out to be too much of a hassle and addicting as well.
On a closing note,I have around 400+ odd friends on my orkut friend list and I have been asked by people if I stand at a busy traffic junction the whole day and talk (scrap) with anyone who stops by.