Looking for Sean McLachlan? He mostly hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog these days, but feel free to nose around this blog for some fun older posts!

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Facebook Culture

As I said in my last post, I've joined Facebook. It's an interesting little world. I've already hooked up with a lot of my old Tucson crowd, now spread over several states and a couple of countries. I've even had a few of my blog readers request to be my friends! So it's fun.

One thing I've noticed though is that it's all very frivolous. "Well yeah," you say, "It's a social networking site, what did you expect?" OK, I expected it to be a bit light, but I didn't expect people to be spending real money to send their friends virtual balloons and birthday cakes. I mean come on.

But is it really so frivolous? In her excellent book Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, anthropologist Kate Fox says that all this social networking, texting, and twittering is important for its very frivolity. It replaces the day-to-day casual interaction our species got from millennia living in villages or wandering in tribes. Now we live in sprawling suburbs or impersonal cities, and we don't get the friendly "Hello, looks like we're in for rain" that we exchanged with the farmer two fields over, or the semi-concerned "Is your mother over her lumbago?" from the second-cousin-twice-removed at the village well.

Apparantly we need that, and it only took a generation without it before modern civilization found a way to replace it.

But I'm still not paying good money for virtual puppies.

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