According to my Facebook page I have 112 friends. Realistically I have about five but it’s a nice illusion.
I suppose my husband could be counted as a ‘friend’ in the sense that we live together and are therefore obliged to speak to each other regularly. I’m bound to my siblings by blood, baggage and rivalry (so they don’t count either) and I have a couple of friends from school with whom I keep in touch, meaning the odd email or drink at Christmas.
Since coming to the Middle East I’ve been fortunate in making some very good friends, but getting together for a social event is as unlikely as a snowstorm in Sharjah. Of course this is purely down to the fact that having children means anything less than an all-expenses-paid trip for two to New York (babysitter provided) is too complicated and besides, who has the energy to socialise after a day doing school-runs and changing nappies?
But then came Facebook: the ultimate tool for a busy mum with little time for friends. It’s brilliant. With very little effort on my part, I am a part of people’s lives, some of whom I may not have seen in 20 years. At the click of a button I am privy to their sadnesses, joys, and holiday snaps. And I don’t even have to get dressed, much less leave the house.
But some people take the whole thing too far. Is anyone really interested in what you’re having for dinner? I recently heard a story about some witless oaf who took a duvet-day following a night on the tiles and then bragged about it online. Not surprisingly he was fired when his boss discovered the truth (no doubt via some well-meaning colleague). And I’m not convinced that clicking on the ‘like’ button to tell the world you disagree with random concepts such as murder or getting up early really achieves that much.
And then there are the quizzes. There is something wrong with society when a 30-something mother spends three minutes of her day answering the ‘which Harry Potter character are you?’ quiz (the Weasley twins apparently, a result which instantly reminded me how stupid the quiz was in the first place).
Of course, I could just switch off, go outside and get a life, but then I’d be back to trying to make friends in the real world, and that involves getting dressed and talking to people. So, unless I’m offered that trip to New York, I’ll be sitting at my desk waiting for the next live news feed.