One of the bonuses of being an emigrant in 2012 is the Internet, and the handy associated applications, specifically Skype. If Annie Moore had a Skype account in 1892, she wouldn’t have received national acclaim for being the first emigrant to grace the shores of Ellis Island.
Ingenious, free Skype to Skype calls and next to nothing Skype call to mobiles and landlines. A great way to keep to in touch with everyone when abroad, you would think! When you are online in Skype a green light appears beside your name when offline (un-contactable) there is a grey shadow, “not right now” is denoted by an orange symbol, there is no symbol for I don’t want to talk to you. Before I re-located to Qatar I ensured that my Skype account was fully set up, headphones, cordless headphones, mobile Skype phone the works. There I was, fully prepared to be inundated with friend requests and Skype calls from the thousands of well wishers (maybe hundreds) and looking forward to online chats to my friends and close family, so during the first months in Qatar you can imagine my frustration when I did received several friend requests and emails but none for Skype all for Facebook! This didn’t suit.
Facebook is a different box of frogs altogether, it provides you with an online “wall”, that you put all the positive stuff about yourself on, the family photos you look good in, your “fantastic” summer holidays, recent nights out, little tidbits spoken in the third person, e.g. “Aoife says: can’t wait for Saturday, going to wear my new shoes, yippee”, or “Trish says: has someone invented fat free chocolate yet”, Tracey replies: “I like this- go girl” and “Gemma answers Trish saying: “I think fat free chocolate has been invented in Japan” ( because there is always one person, who doesn’t get the joke and answers literally). Is this now how conversation works? Has “how are you?” been replaced by “Elaine just poked you”? Has having a warts n’ all conversation with your friend, been pushed aside for this anti social peek around someone’s Facebook page. Are our friends now forced to read the comments and “pokes” and view the photographs on Facebook to come up with their own assumptions on how you’re doing? Frequently my friends tell me things like, “Ciara moved into her new house” to which I innocently reply, “Oh, is it nice, when did you visit”, to be told, “Oh I’m not in touch with Ciara anymore but I have access to her Facebook page, and I can tell from the comments that she moved in”. Too often the “contacts” list of Facebook users is populated with a pile of clapped out acquaintances from your past, that users politely accept but if you met them in the supermarket on the same day, you would most definitely become very interested in a box of cereal, just to ignore them. If this is the case, are we in fact isolating ourselves more that ever by insulating ourselves from thrust and fro of an honest to goodness conversation.
What if “Soulbook” was invented, an honest networking site, to share your true feelings what if in Sarah’s photograph section, there were photographs uploaded of Sarah’s family holiday with the caption, “we couldn’t afford the Costas this year, so we went to Tramore, got rained out of it and spent a fortune, the kids never stopped fighting” and if Chloe commented, “I can see that, you look really worn out in the photos” and then if Rachel posted a comment saying, “think you had it bad, we had Mark’s relations for Christmas, they nearly did my head in, was glad to get my house back to myself” and there was a reply back, “too right girl, had visitors a few years ago and never again”. What if, when you send an invitation you got a reply back saying, “Hi, thanks for the invitation, while I am mildly curious as to how you are doing, ever since you made a show of yourself and me at Brenda’s wedding in Douglas, I can’t be bothered, sorry bye and best of luck on Soulbook” or “I signed the card from work and contributed to your leaving present because I felt I had to, however, now that you’re gone, I’d rather not stay in touch, truth is , I always found you a tad overpowering”.
Harsh I know, but accurate and isn’t life filled with enough obligation rather than inviting it into your online social life? Everyone on “Soulbook”, knows where they stand, you may end up with a whittled down friend list but “Soulbook” would be a safe place, full of friends (all four of them) and honest conversation.