Social networking – what the fuck’s that all about, eh? And so opens another editorial, on a note of rational debate. But, rather than teeter into another demented rant on the part of yours truly, let’s step back from the precipice and address this issue in a calm and reasonable fashion. First off, let me put my cards on the table – I’m not a member of Facebook, I do not have a My Space page and I have never visited, let alone registered with, Friends Reunited. I really do not understand what the fascination of any of these sites is. However, my continued non-participation in the ‘social networks’ they apparently provide is rapidly making me feel like a pariah. Not that this feeling of alienation is making me any more inclined to join in, of course. I’m naturally misanthropic. I really don’t see the point into signing up to something like Facebook to ‘network’ with people in the same profession, or who went to the same university. They’re exactly the sort of people I try and avoid! Jesus, I don’t socialise with the people I physically work with, let alone a bunch of virtual colleagues! Why do I want a bunch of complete strangers (who have probably written a pack of lies about themselves in their personal data) to pester me and offer to be my ‘friends’? I already know too many people in real life. Indeed, I’m something of an anti-social networker – my list of e-mail contacts gets shorter and shorter. As I get older, and experience the company of more and more human beings through normal everyday social contacts, the more I want to become a hermit. Increasingly, I find that very few people are actually worth knowing. Scratch the surface of the average citizen in this country and you find an obnoxious knee-jerk reactionary, ignorant bigot, so it increasingly seems. Cyberspace seems no different. In fact, it’s even easier there for the bastards to hide behind apparently reasonable facades, only emerging in their true colours when they’ve managed to sidle up close to you under false pretences. So much for Facebook. As for the others, well, My Space seems to be designed for superficial exhibitionists and wannabes, whilst Friends Reunited is based upon a concept entirely alien to me. Why the hell would I want to get back in touch with any of the people I went to school with? They were the biggest bunch of smug, middle class, arrogant bastards I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. I’ve spent years trying to shake them off.

One of the main gripes about such sites seems to be that they devalue the concept of the term ‘friend’. The term implies some kind of mutual relationship built up over years, involving shared experiences and ideas, not someone who has read your profile online. Mind you, if the average social networking site user’s real-life friends were anything like mine, I couldn’t really blame them for looking elsewhere for acquaintances. I must suffer from the most unreliable collection of so-called friends on the planet. Again, it’s cards on the table time. I’m not a person who makes friends easily. I don’t have a vast network of friends. I take the concept of friendship very seriously, believing that it involves a degree of commitment and loyalty, and that it takes effort to maintain such relationships. However, just lately, I seem to have become burdened by friends who don’t seem to feel the same way, vanishing off of the face of the earth for weeks at a time (years in a couple of cases) without any explanation, or effort to maintain contact. I’m tired of having messages and other attempts at contact ignored. I’m tired of only being contacted when it seems that they want something from me – if not physically borrowing something, they seem to expect emotional support. I’m tired of my support never seeming to be reciprocated. In fact, I’m now operating a ‘three strikes and you are out’ policy with regard to them – if you can’t be bothered to reply to three attempts to get in touch in a row, I’m damned if I’m going to bother trying again. It’s up to them to make the effort and contact me. Even worse than the lack of contact is the abuse of my goodwill. I’ll give you an example: a few weeks ago somebody was meant to be coming round to see me on a Saturday afternoon (to borrow something, naturally). I waited in all bloody afternoon. Did they show? No. Did they bother to get in touch to tell me they wouldn’t be round? No. An entire sunny Saturday afternoon wasted. My time off is precious – but not to my ‘friends’, apparently. It was nearly a week before I got any kind of half-assed apology. What really pisses me off is that if I was to do the same things – be unreliable, fail to reply to texts and phone messages, etc. – I’d be public enemy number one, branded a selfish anti-social bastard!

Of course, cynics would argue that it is me that is at fault – that I’m too demanding and have unrealistically high expectations of my relationships with friends. Perhaps it is simply because I’m an obnoxious git who people can’t wait to get away from. Actually, I’m not that demanding – I’m not one of those people who has to live in his friends’ pockets. I’m not on the phone to them every five minutes. I don’t invite myself round to their houses unannounced. Not only that, but I actually don’t think that I am that bad a person. I’m an awkward bastard, but I’m also kind to animals and help old ladies across the street. So, it isn’t so much that I’m against online social networking, as I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that any form of social networking is a waste of time. It isn’t sites like Facebook which have devalued the concept of friendship, it is the kind of facile, self-centred egotists we seem to be becoming which has done that. Well, I’ve decided, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I’m going to become entirely self-centred. From now on, everybody else can go fuck off. I’m sick and tired of you bastards and I don’t need you in my life. As an opening shot, I’m throwing a wild party, and none of my supposed friends are invited. Ha! How do you like that, then? I’m going to drink my own beer, listen to my CDs, throw up, the whole thing. All on my own! That’ll show ‘em! The fact is that I like being on my own, not having to accommodate the bloody irritating whims of others. So maybe you’ve all done me a favour by being such lousy friends. You’re helping me fulfil my ambition of being a hermit. With this editorial in danger of turning into an episode of Jeremy Kyle (“Yes Jeremy, I do feel neglected by my friends…”), it’s probably time we wrapped it all up for this issue. Maybe I should just go out and find some new friends. But where can I do that easily? Come to think of it, I’ve heard of these websites where you can network socially… Until the next time, take it sleazy!

Doc Sleaze