August 24, 2015
As I mentioned in the post about why are we friends I’ve been thinking a lot about my interactions with people in both real life and via technology a lot over the last month or so. After rejoining a good mate messaged me to see what was up. He’s an intuitive bugger, and over several cups of tea we set the world to rights a few days later. I should credit him with the campfire analogy below. Those few hours were so meaningful and valuable they knock every electronically mediated conversation I’d had into a cocked hat.
My friend Ian (met through the tech community) wrote a post about my thoughts on rejoining which has the lovely little phase, “It almost sounds like he’s returning home” (it did) and in it is a picture, one I thought I agreed with but on reflection I find that it’s half right. I make friends via Twitter, and grow to like people I’ve never met, but Facebook is not where friendships go to die, it’s where I get to bask in the glow.
Imagine living in a village, in your own cottage, doing your own thing. You wave to your neighbors, see them at the odd social event and maybe gossip when you meet. Nice huh? One night somebody builds a fire and a few people drift out and sit round the fire, singing songs, telling tales, toasting marshmallows, all the stuff you’ve seen in American summer camps that probably never actually happens.
Over time, more people join in the evenings, and the quality of the chat drops off a bit, and a few people are a bit arsey, but it’s nice, warm and social. You don’t have to do much if you don’t want, but you’ll get the odd beer or marshmallow and hear the little bits of news, a pregnancy, a holiday, who’s been snogging who etc etc. There are claps on the back when you crack a joke. Everybody faces into the fire.
Not going out to that fire is tough. It’s not that people forgot about you, or don’t want to see you or hear your news, but they do forgot that they haven’t seen you, or told you their news. They shared it round the campfire after all. You might still have people round to tea occasionally, or pick up the phone to speak to them but that easy comradery is missing. That warm glow doesn’t reach far either, in fact it’s very much a walled garden.
Social networks take on very different characters, hugely influenced by how you use them. I might run a lock twitter account (for many reasons) but I still meet a lot of people through twitter and over the last nine years (fuck me, 9 years!) I’ve used Twitter not only to stay in touch with people I’ve met at conference and parties but also I’ve ended up following people because of subject matter chats and evolved friendship over time. Much like finding the bar where all the scaling expert hang out, or the coffee shop that drum’n’bass heads recover in, Twitter is a tremendous was to broaden your circle of associates and over time some of these people become friends.comments powered by Disqus