There's a wonderful, truly beautiful article in today's Guardian by Tom Hodgkinson on why not to sign up for Facebook. I agreed with nearly every word but especially this sentence. It was almost poetic:
We are seeing the commodification of human relationships, the extraction of capitalistic value from friendships.
Now then, regular readers will know I'm no fan of Facebook and if you'd like to read it, here's my take on social networking sites:
Was it Karl Marx who first coined the phrase commodity fetishism? I think of those two words every time I pass a shop or surf a site selling any kind of add-ons for already blinged-up techy stuff. It’s something I don’t understand and have no desire to buy, but I’m not a complete technophobe. I’m the sort of person who’ll give you a nasty stare if I’m sat next to you on the tube with your swish, bang, swish, swish, bang coming out of your ears and into my space. Did I just say MySpace? Ooh, don’t get me started on social networking sites.
I remember the days when th’internet was all green fields and html code and by gum it seems like hard work when you can now tickle your mouse to carry out the equivalent of a whole screen of code. 14, count ‘em, 14 years ago social networking sites meant something very different indeed.
In my case, the social aspects of the web came from meeting up, in real life, with real people (yes, we really did this, folks) who shared the same interests. We’d meet online, groups of regular posters to a soap opera fan Usenet group and after exchanging emails and posts we’d head in large groups and small ones, to the pub, for a curry, up and down the country and then post pictures and reviews the next day. Not only did we talk about our favourite soap (ok, it was Corrie) but the joy was in meeting up with someone you’d only known as Elsie_Tanner_No7 for the past three months.
It was quite a surprise, at first, to find Elsie was a bearded fella in his 50s but as Corrie itself attracts gay, straight and transsexual fans, the people I met through the group were as varied and interesting as anyone you'd ever find on TV.As the newsgroup, and internet, grew in popularity and more people joined the Usenet community, a weekend in Blackpool was arranged with overseas posters even coming in from Canada and the US . A good time was had by all even if I did get an electric shock from the washbasin in my bedroom of the very dodgy B&B we’d been booked into after one of our group found it online – a rare occurrence back in 1995. The Corrie group of fans meeting up over the years has evolved and there have been weddings and partnerships of people who have met up online. Now that’s social networking. So don’t expect me to get excited by F... F... F... Facebook, give me Elsie_Tanner_No7 any day for a chat and a pint - in real life.