I guess it's a form of endearment. But it seems like laziness to me. Poking.
It's like you don't have anything to say but you want to let someone know you're thinking about them. Or let them know that their picture popped up in their "friends" box and it seemed like as good a time as any to poke them.
I did kinda like the application Super Poke that allowed you to throw sheep, drinks and odd objects at your friends. But only AFTER they installed "allowed" the program access to their wall. I'm less and less likely to do this these days. I've got enough stuff on my wall without some new app posting updates that have nothing to do with me.
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