Thursday, May 11, 2006

I have this friend, well, she's slightly less of a friend, more of an acquaintance. Maybe not even that; what do you call someone where you know their email address, and their mobile number, but you don't know where they live, or their landline, and you run into them at parties or other people's things? Acquaintance-lite? Kinda-friend?

Anyway, she's a nice woman, from what I know of her. Which is not that much. But she's interesting and sociable and that's always nice.

But everyone must know someone like this. Once I got into her email address book, I'm getting like four emails a week from her. I think I last saw her in person in November - briefly.

See, there are some people who can't read modernity. Or maybe, just see it differently. So what I see as a mail I would send to a real friend, she sees as a "send to whole address book" (STWAB). But the problem with the STWAB methodology is that I feel like the internet* version of someone working the room on me.

She - theoretically - does all the right things for acquaintance-ship or people who like networking. She sends me the odd email (ok, more than the odd one). She's friendly when I see her. I have a rough idea of what's going on in her life.

But it feels like TMI (as they say nowadays). I don't know if want to know that her brother just got back from traveling in Guatemala for a year, and she's having tea at her parents' in Richmond to welcome them back. Because I don't know her brother. Or Richmond. Or go south of the river.

See, she's not doing anything wrong. It just feels a little, well, odd. I don't think it's aspergic; I don't think it's like when you're trapped in a conversation with someone at a party and you know they want to leave it, but they can't leave and you're both stuck there for eternity discussing house insurance or something. With her, it's slightly more nuanced. She sends me things I could, if I was interested, be interested in. Or, if I had less friends, or less to do, I might thing, hey, why don't I go to Jane's party for her brother (about whom I know more than I do about her, thanks to her pen portrait). Maybe she doesn't have any social boundaries, or she doesn't have any like mine.

I think it's something about living in the post-Big Brother world. Or the search marketing world. Or modernity. If you acknowledge that there's no more privacy, and everyone basically wants to be a celebrity, then the combination of these two things means that everyone's potentially just a little bit more open and out there.

It's just that to people like me - who are closed and home, I guess I'm saying - it feels like when you go on a first date with someone and they tell you their whole life history. Except nowadays you already googled them and they are merely confirming what you know but won't admit to. So, I think there's something basically wrong - so retro, I know. let's say inappropriate - about losing the layers of relationships, discovery, the nuanced nature of communication. Maybe modernity is insufficiently nuanced?

Rant over. It's just that I got another email, saying she's in the Observer at the weekend. Nice, huh?

* completely separate conversation, but internet no longer has a capital I. It's not the Internet (new and exciting). It's the internet. Like shopping or reading or work; just something you do.

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