A few days ago, I received an e-mail from my old friend Swazi, asking me to be her Facebook friend. Now, when The Guardian and Patroclus agree that FB is the social networking site to be on for hip thirtysomethings, it makes for a persuasive argument. But I said no.
It's not because I don't love Swazi, of course. It's simply because my inbox still gets peppered with entreaties from FriendsReunited, Friendster, Tickle and Hi5 (no, me neither - never hit the 'yes' button when drunk), not to mention stuff relating to LibraryThing and Twitter, all giving the illusion of a thriving social life in the guise of ones and zeroes. And that's without considering this blog. Were I to plunge into Facebook, MySpace, Second Life and Bebo as well, I think I'd need to take on a secretary to organise all the exciting things that aren't really happening to me. Turns out that the virtual me is just as much of an anti-social curmudgeon as the flesh version.
But it's more than that. I've also got this strange feeling that every time I sign up to one of these things, I'm offering up a part of me that I'll never get back. Like those tribesmen in Papua New Guinea who think being photographed takes away a chunk of your soul.
Never mind, eh? Record Collector used words like "impressive", "intriguing" and "occasionally alarming" in its review of Welcome to the Machine. Which is nice.