Get connected with your neighborhood

Story by Chris Graham

I like the “Friends” analogy the best.

“Everyone on Facebook is ‘Friends’ age. They’re still in transition, haven’t put any roots down,” said Harrisonburg resident Mike Rodes, who with his cousin, Ronnie Rodes, is launching a next-generation social-networking website,, next week.

But more on that in a minute. Because we’re talking “Friends” here. You remember “Friends.” Joey and Chandler and Ross and Rachel and Monica and Phoebe and New York and the rest. Twentysomethings who didn’t do much other than hang out at a coffee shop and play an ungodly amount of foosball.

“The show ended with Monica and Chandler adopting a kid and moving out to the suburbs and Joey moving out to the coast to get a job. Everybody broke off and started their own lives, and they started to get plugged in to the community. That’s where our site comes in. It’s after you realize, well, now what?” Rodes said of, which goes live on July 1 as “Facebook on steroids,” to use Rodes’ description of what you can expect.

I’ve taken the tour that is offered on the site right now, and it has a familiar feel. I’ve long since advanced beyond the rather juvenile MySpace and become something of a Facebook freak in recent months, and the elements that I like about Facebook – the profile, the events section, the photo album – are all there. What I like isn’t the “Facebook on steroids” aspect as much as the other main selling point that Rodes explained to me.

“The common thing with MySpace and Facebook is people send you a friend request, and that opens them up to everything on your page,” Rodes said. “So you’re into Facebook, and now I’m your friend, and maybe you didn’t consider me a good friend, but I can see all your photos, everything. On our site, you can request to be a friend, or you can request to be somebody’s contact. You have a business relationship with somebody, for example, and you know each other in that respect. It’s just like in the real world. You really do have a tiering of friends and contacts in your life. You have contacts, acquaintances, friends. We try to mirror that on our website.”

The “steroids” come in the form of the features that should make attractive to the post-“Friends” set. A tie-in to Google Maps, for example, allows users to connect with neighbors who have also signed up for the site. And businesses and churches can create what amount to free web pages that advertise specials or serve as a conduit of information for church events or other happenings.

“What we’re trying to do is get communities back together again,” Rodes said. “Basically what we all do now is go home, get out of our cars, close the garage door, and most people, if they’re lucky, know who’s beside them, but they don’t know who’s two houses up. What we’re trying to do is connect people.

“It’s hard to connect with people nowadays, and it shouldn’t be. We’re in the Information Age. We have all these things that connect us with one another, and yet we don’t,” Rodes said.


UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Feedback from buyers: “Got the Book in the Mail Saturday, and could not put it down! Great read and great photography as well! Love all of the books I’ve received, but hands down, this is my favorite!” – Russell

Buy here.

augusta free press news
augusta free press news
augusta free press news