‘Social networking’ can really be such a double-edged sword.
After meeting, you become friends on Facebook. You follow one another on Twitter, add each other as Flickr contacts and share your Upcoming events info. Soon you’re reading each other’s blogs, and sharing links you think are interesting, or pictures you hope they’ll enjoy. You view their private Tumblr with relish, and smile when you see they’ve posted something you suggested. They privately message you to comment about a nice Flickr picture of you. You drop hints in your blog, hoping they’ll spot the secret reference just for them; and they do. You direct message each other on Twitter and save your @ replies for other, less personal, acquaintances. You play a few games of online Scrabble and innuendo seeps into the miniature chat box. Your Facebook flirtations spill over into gmail and you end up IMing about life, love, sex. You spend months regularly chatting or messaging or DMing on Twitter or emailing or playing, and you’re flirting, and it’s fun and exciting and hopeful, and there is mutual attraction; and all these ways of communicating, of staying in contact, means you’re both interconnected, even if there are miles between you.
And it’s wonderful – until the communication ends.
Where once you’d find an almost daily email, now there is none; your inbox lies empty. They don’t log in to gmail chat any more (or they’re ‘invisible’); they’re no longer making themselves available to IM with you. You see their tweets but no private, saucy DM from them awaits you. You notice they’ve updated Flickr but they don’t comment on your photos any more. They’ve stopped sending you links and pictures and articles and now you hesitate to send them any. You drop hints about them in your blog that you hope they’ll pick up on, but they fail to react. You spot their Facebook updates but no jokey messages from them are in your inbox. The Scrabble game you created goes un-played.
Once upon a time, outside the social network of the Internet, you’d just shrug if someone dropped communication and accept that if they really wanted to stay in contact, they’d simply pick up the 'phone and say hello. But in the web of modern interactivity, where you get used to the regular loud chatter of the (false?) intimacy of the social network, the sudden distance and silence from someone you’ve connected with on a frequent and personal basis is –ironically – deafening.
[I thought I'd post up some extracts from my book. Hope you enjoy them.]