Om Malik is writing about Facebook’s fascination with Twitter and what a mistake it is to imitate the micro-messaging service. As part of his analysis, he makes a great point about the level of intimacy available on Facebook.
Facebook, by its very nature, is mostly about our past, sometimes about our present, but very rarely about our future. Being symmetric, it’s important that we have some sort of a prior relationship with a person in order to friend them on Facebook. Your classmates, neighbors and the folks you met at a party — these are all relationships from your past. Facebook doesn’t really allow you to discover new people — and that has been the part of its charm (and utility).
I bitch about Facebook a lot, but a small network of real friends and acquaintances (plus some people in your city or industry that you want to meet) is kind of a nice retreat, an online safe place if you will.