Lately, it has happened a couple of times that a friend has mentioned a party, and it has turned out that the likeliest reason I was not invited was that I am not on Facebook. It has also happened that I have missed some interesting discussion, because it was on (Q/J)aiku, and just a couple of days ago I missed the information about the birth of a new daughter to a colleague, because the event was only announced on Twitter, the new parents understandably too busy to blog or email.
Whenever this happens, there is a momentary panic: HELP! Everything Important™ happens elsewhere! Right now too, something might be happening and I don’t know about it! It is just a question of time before everyone forgets about me!
Then I try to make it pass. I have my contacts, I have my presence, and there is no way in hell I can maintain contact to everyone I know or have known. I already have a blog, and I am on various IRC channels, and follow various community-specific forums, and I have an email address. As is, with all of those I cannot even maintain as much contact as I would like to all of those I would like to — my dearest friends, my family, some interesting people I would like to know better but never get around to. Would screaming my presence into the internet in the hope that others have more time to follow all that help? I find this unlikely.
If anything, I feel my social life needs less idling on IRC and forums, less places to poll to see if anything is happening Right Now, and more time to make things happen at leisure.
I remember that some years ago in one university students’ club we were, in all seriousness, very concerned that if we stop sending the announcement of society meetings to the student newspaper, students without email might be excluded. And yes indeed, if any students continued to not use email and web, by now they pretty much are excluded. Are there any such cases? I don’t know. I wouldn’t know. Are they less happy for it? Do they have difficulties passing time? Do they indeed have no friends left? I doubt it — but again, I wouldn’t know. Is Facebook or Twitter the new email? Will I disappear into obscurity without it? Is Everyone Else there discussing something Important right now? Why is no one saying anything on IRC? Where are they talking that I am not hearing?
Theory: I will notice if I at some point have too much time and too little social life. Probably at that point I still have some friend left who can tell me where to find the rest of the guys.
- Am I still here? by Anthony Doerr. Also available as audio on QN.
- John Naish: Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More