Never in the history of mankind have we been so connected. Every person on the planet it seems has a phone and an email and a website and a blog and a myspace page and on Facebook and Twittering hourly and and and and. Yet I feel less able to talk to people than ever.
A personal peeve of mine is the phenomena I’ve termed “com-swapping”, which goes something like this. You see a person and ask how come they didn’t turn up to meet you and they reply that they emailed you to say they couldn’t make it.
Emailed you after you texted them half an hour before to make sure they were coming. Which would connote that you are on your phone, not your computer. You point this out, only to be told, “But I did email”. It’s like the great communication legal loophole. Or that they sent a message to your online profile on that personal site. Or I Facebooked you. Or I did something else that gives me a get out of jail free card.
Sorry if I’m going to sound like I just put on my beige cardigan, but what happened to calling? I’m going to tell people now that I mailed them a post card.
Then every now and then an event happens to let you know that this golden age of communication has taken another giant leap backwards.
I was chatting to a guy online, on one of those “gentlemen” sites who turned out to know a couple that are good friends of mine.
BIGBADBEAR: Sure, I know John and Tim.
KARLINVENICE: Great guys huh, I’m going to theirs for dinner on Friday.
BIGBADBEAR: It’s a real shame about what happened.
KARLINVENICE: What do you mean?
BIGBADBEAR: You know they split up, right?
KARLINVENICE: Uh, no.
BIGBADBEAR: They posted it on Flickr.
Flickr is a photo sharing website where you post up photos and people comment on them. It’s basically a blog for people who don’t like typing as they document photographically every agonizingly boring aspect of their lives for others. Yet, like reality TV, it’s utterly compelling.
I wasn’t on Flickr, so I find my way to their page and lo and behold the last entry is the two of them dressed in black sitting on their sofa. The photo reminds me vaguely of American Gothic. They propped their breakup photo. Amazing.
Underneath is a short statement that after ten years, they’ve decided to terminate their relationship and salvage their friendship.
But this friend is feeling very much unsalvaged. A breakup is about the two people involved and the last thing they need is someone else weighing in with their issues. Yet still I felt like we were such good friends, didn’t I deserve a call?
“But we posted it on Flickr.”