As I sat in the pub last night with a group of ladies I have recently met, my iPhone ‘pinged’ the following message at me:
“Make love and clutch the chukka!”
According to the person who sent the message, (you know who you are!), that is ‘posh’ talk for getting laid!
And you may well wonder why I was having that kind of conversation via private Tweets… Well, I’m not up to anything. Sadly, my life just isn’t that exciting! But the banter between myself and various Tweeters has been keeping me entertained. And as I lay in bed this morning re-reading and clearing out my in-box, I was pondering the nature of on-line relationships vs face to face ones.
For the many years that I was unhappily married, I kept a great deal to myself. And I felt very isolated. Friends would come round and I’d flash a big smile as I greeted them.
“How are you?” they’d ask.
“Great, thanks!” I’d reply.
But I wasn’t great – not by a mile. But social niceties don’t allow you to say what you really think.
These were the years before I re-discovered my writing and got into Twitter. And it’s been a revolution. When I’m online, I no longer have to flash the smile and pretend. I have no qualms saying:
“I’m having a shit day! And you?”
And the responses are equally honest. Why wouldn’t they be? These anonymous people have nothing to prove – so why wouldn’t they say what they mean and mean what they say?
Being quite shy, I have a terrible problem with blushing. I blush so easily it makes me cringe. I can feel the heat rising in my cheeks and I just want the ground to open and swallow me up… But online – you can’t blush. And even if I did, no one could see!
And so it crossed my mind that in many ways, these online relationships are far more genuine than face to face ones. Online, we don’t have to follow the same set of social rules. We can say things to people that we really want to say, but don’t have the cohunes to say face to face.
That said, there are certain unwritten ‘rules’ when it comes to Twitter etc. And occasionally I break them (like asking for an RT, which I do sometimes shamelessly do. RT stands for re-tweet, for those not familiar with Twitter). But then I enjoy breaking the ‘rules’ in my normal life – so that is true to myself!
But as genuine as these relationships may be, they should never take over. Many people use a pseudonym to protect their identity online – so you don’t ‘really’ know who they are. And if you don’t even know who they are, you certainly can’t meet them at the pub! So unless you want to be a sad geek, sitting on your own at home every evening, you will always need ‘real’ friends. But online ones? They’re a really great addition.
If someone said to my face that I should “make love and clutch the chukka” I would blush to the roots of my hair and then mumble something incoherent. But online, my response was, well – I’m not sure I want to tell you… But I can assure you it was a very genuine reply!