Ok, so it’s half a year but I have passed many hours looking at other people’s holiday snaps, photos of them at parties and events, videos of their dog walks and climbing trips.
Social networking can give the illusion of not having spent days on the settee playing Simon’s Cat videos for your own cat: I’ve watched so many YouTube videos of cats snoring, Chaplin now suspects I’m filming him while he sleeps and has taken to napping under a table in the bedroom where he knows I can’t reach him.
You can almost feel like you’ve had a walk on the beach if you see enough Facebook holiday photos posted by friends. Those ancient ruins could be right there in front of you unless your friend is a poor photographer or insists on doing the peace sign or thumbs-up in front of famous monuments.
Instant messaging can even mean you have a chat with friends while they’re doing the activity as you sit in the (relative) warmth of your home. It can help you keep in touch not just with old friends, or pals on the other side of the globe but those who are sitting at their desks in work, as bored as you are sitting at home without work.
It’s often argued that social networking is bad for your health, that it is isolating and chips away at your confidence.
One expert says, “”Social networking sites should allow us to embellish our social lives, but what we find is very different. The tail is wagging the dog. These are not tools that enhance, they are tools that displace.”
I’ve been socially displaced by a lack of work: had my friends not talked me down from a job-seeking ledge I could be physically displaced, having moved many miles away, desperate for a job. As someone who can only afford Jobseekers’ Gym, not the chance to talk to real human beings using the neighbouring treadmill or, often, not even passing dog-walkers for a shared smile on a mid-afternoon stroll, I have to disagree. Social networking has lessened my isolation – and means Chaplin isn’t left feeling like a primary care giver.
My self-proclaimed rich German industrialist friend (of the red wine and hair dye gifts) has entertained me many an afternoon with tales of what she has had for her tea, sending gems such as, “it was good and simple but exactly what i wanted spaghetti i had such a craving for it”.
Or surreal discussions that can be analysed for the rest of the evening:
German friend: “I love this: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dichotomy it is my new obsession.”
Me: “The word or the online dictionary?”
Friend: “The online dictionary taht tells you how to pronounce LOVE IT i did anathema the other day and i want a sherlock holmes hat”
These little moments, the simple day-to-day existence of others keeps me entertained. Listening to people moan about work keeps me sane as a reminder that the grass isn’t always greener. This is selfish, but true.
We also know the enormous benefits it has when it comes to organising campaigns … such as Sunday’s March for the Alternative going past the Tory conference in Manchester. So I fail to understand the downer some have on social networking. This blog alone has introduced me to some interesting, generous individuals who, despite being strangers, have cheered me up with a few kind words, some much-needed encouragement and a bit of understanding.
And when it comes to job-seeking it’s invaluable: LinkedIn now gets a new addition every second and “traffic on the world’s top professional web networks has surged since the financial crisis started to make headlines.” It also saves spending money on bus fares to visit employment agencies and Jobcentres and, of course, many applications are now expected to be done online.
All these reasons aside, I’ve had a fantastic Twitter argument with a very angry dog who does not appreciate my typing what I imagine Chaplin would if he could touch one key at a time. He tells me cats are imperialists preying on the weak mice and birds, which is difficult to argue with.
Good news: The warm weather meant much winter preparation washing could be done . . . and the faux fur throws no longer smell of cat farts
Bad news: I’m still unsure if I should spend money on gas – especially while the weather is so warm – so the meter debt for non-use will rise further