Saturday, October 13, 2007

Virtually Friends

Virtual Friends
Image courtesy of Second Life/BBC

I'm almost embarrassed to write about Facebook, but I made a vow to myself a while ago not to condemn my own life-experience in this neurotic and self-defeating way, so here I am. Writing about Facebook in a consciously non-shameful way.

I was talked into Facebook, which I had heard about many times and whole-heartedly rejected being a part of - on the grounds that it sounded to me like self-indulgent wank - by my friend Ben, the actor. Actually, I wasn't so much talked into it as much as he just signed me up without my consent (giving me the most singularly obscene password that I have ever had to type into a machine on an almost daily basis and which, oddly, I am now loathe to change because it also links into a story about the night Ben and I met, which [is it grammatically improper to use 'which' twice in one sentence?] I am most definitely not going to tell here, or indeed anywhere it could be reproduced and attributed to me).

At first, I didn't understand what all the Facebook fuss was about. It all looked innocuous enough.

Then I started to get friends. Friends that threw sheep at me. Friends that poked me - and the childish novelty of that never wears off. In fact, as my friend Shelley and I were discussing the other day in the pub, Facebook really capitalises on childish novelty. When was the last time, as an adult, you flicked a bogey at someone? Or left a drawing of a big fat cock on one of their possessions? I'm hoping you're thinking it was at school or college, but my point kind of remains valid even if it wasn't.

Shelley had some interesting thoughts on the protocol and etiquette of Facebook bogey flicking and the like.

"What do you think of this?" she asked over her pint, "This girl, who I hardly actually know in the real world - I mean, like, we've spoken to each other in the pub twice or something - added me to her Facebook the other day."

"That doesn't sound so bad," I say, "Quite a few people I don't really know have added me. I don't mind. When I'm sat in the flat on my own sometimes looking at my Facebook, it makes me feel more popular that those people talk to me."

She looks at me for a moment without speaking and then smiles gently.

"That wasn't the end of my story, but, er, nice."

"Oh. Ok," I answer, "I was just kidding about the popularity thing."

"Uh-huh. Anyway, this girl adds me as a friend, which is cool, but then, after a couple of days, she flicks a bogey at me." Shelley pauses and looks at me.

"Oh," I answer, drawing out the syllable in a strangely satisfying way, "That's a bit familiar."

"Exactly," she answers, satisfied, "Way too familiar. I mean, you should know someone for much longer before you flick bogies at them. There should be some kind of relationship there. Past shared experiences that bring you closer as people, you know?"

The weird thing is, I actually do know what she means, and I'm in agreement.

"Maybe we should write a book about this sort of thing, " I suggest. "Like Facebook manners for beginners, or something. It would make it clear to people what the rules were. We could set out clear guidelines for the exact amount of time you have to know someone before you should flick bogies at them."

"Maybe," she agrees slowly. I let it go.

But, regardless of protocol, Facebook is an interesting phenomena, causing people to interact in a new way. Admittedly, I can think of more positive uses of our time, like meditation, or gradually working our way towards world peace, but even so.

At least it's not serial killing, and there's a lot to be said for that. 

You can take that as a recommendation. Sort of. 

My friend and fellow Peace Cafe Irregular, Spoon (I gave him this nickname because he's a little stirrer, and I'm unquestionably proud of how much he hates it - as an aside, it's a personal ambition of mine to get everyone calling him Spoon), has just joined Facebook and took great pleasure yesterday in announcing to the Cafe at large that he had just poked me. And from across the room.

See what you're missing out on?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Is it a sin to be purposeless?

Some days I don't know what to write. Somedays I look at this screen and it is filled with the expectant gaze of a parent waiting for you to achieve something of value.

This may be why the last couple of days have been filled with recommendations. I like to give you something of use. Days like today, I just don't have the juice.

(Although apparently, I do have the unconscious ability to rhyme, so all is not lost.....)

Other days I have more material than I know what to do with and I can't write any of it because it would probably cost me my friendships/new and delicious relationship with beautiful angel boy/family/professional future.

Ah, the road of the honest writer is filled with potential pitfalls. And reluctant silences. 

Which I am somehow managing to turn into material. I'm making the absence of material, material. God, I hope you appreciate this.

The cafe is empty and it has been like this for about an hour. When you're overly familiar with public space, the temptation to treat it like private space becomes almost overwhelming. I realised this just now when I caught myself dancing like a lunatic to a rendition of These Are a Few of My Favourite Things in french - it was on FIP radio, a French internet station - try it, you might like it.

I forget firstly, that there are big open windows at the front of the Cafe, and secondly that people walk past them all the time.

Actually, as I write this, it begins to make sense why no one's come in.

I could take this opportunity to work on my Great British Novel for Young Adults, but that would be far too sensible. Instead I'm eating Frazzles (an addiction picked up from the previously mentioned beautiful angel boy - and would you Adam and Believe they're vegetarian?? Why would anyone make vegetarian bacon crisps? Well, actually, as I write that I realise because if there's anything I bet all veggies lie the most about missing it's bacon), listening to French radio and desperately resisting the urge to go on Facebook. Bugger.

Ok, that's it. Reading today's entry back is like an advert for Make Your Life a Lethargic Avoidance Trip (if I wrote that, could I actually sell it?). I'm off to work on the GBNYA. Disturb me when the publishers call and not before.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Where does the Pixie writer go?

It was only after I posted yesterday that I saw the comments following my International Day of Peace a la Peace Cafe post. I will post you a debrief on that event in the next few days, maybe even with pictures, if the fates allow. Thanks for asking and I miss writing here every day, too.

What happens when I'm not writing here is a subject of ongoing international debate.

Ok, it's not.

Honestly, I've been reverse-managing my time as part of a CIA experiment to investigate what happens to freelance professionals when they attempt to allow their careers to grow organically, which is to say when they contribute nothing to their own personal future development.

Ok, I haven't. I don't have an answer for you. Well, I do, but I just have no intention of going into it right now. You're not my shrink, for God's sake. I don't want to do it to you.

One thing I have spent time on recently was a treat for Kit Kat. A day of birthday pampering at The Loft, a treat reserved exclusively for only a small number of elite individuals, who consist of, well, just Kate.

Pampering at the Loft is not an event to be taken lightly. A large amount of good food, cheap wine, great music and mindblowing audio visual discovery (including, but by no means restricted to, goat porn) is involved, and only a few people in the world can handle this kind of paradigm-shifting experience. Fortunately Kate and I are two such people. Follow the links below and one day, you might be such people too. But careful what you wish for.

In our travels around the Loft yesterday, the sights we took included:

The Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus.

One of the Chief's current favourite pieces of music, from Atonement, which fell into our laps in an unusually serendipitous moment of YouTube labyrinthine exploration.

The unusually amazing Laura Marlin.

The discovery of Ze Frank, via TED Talks, and his amazing website. This guy is fascinated with social online interaction, and we spent far too long on his site this morning over coffee. 

We can both recommend The Scribbler, which takes your doodle and turns it into art, and when you've finished trying it for yourself, go back and check out The Gallery - you won't believe what this little tool can do (I'm sure I've said that before).

We also took some time out to out our lives to rights, express our fears and hopes, decide whether we would sooner have sex with Adolf Hitler or Margaret Thatcher if the lives of those we loved depended on it (I refuse to discuss the nature of the half hour long discussion that followed), and to end the evening with some magic.

Some people might say that my return to the blogosphere is so far almost entirely devoted to recommendations. Some people might say that this is a copout from writing about more meaningful things here in blogsville. I avoid these people. So should you. Check out the links and shut up and drink your gin. I can talk about the confusions and the shining joys of love and life anytime, I just choose not to.