One thing that occurs to me about sites like this and MySpace, fotolog, Facebook etc etc. They are meant to outgoing people. People who have lots and lots of friends, and like making connections.
I'm not one of them.
It took me a long time to start one of these sites - and yes okay I may have started one or two of them.
fotolog (a near-daily image from one Italy trip or another)
MySpace (really just a copy of this blog)
But if I look honestly at my pages on these site one thing is painfully obvious. I am not a social animal. My MySpace page has just one friend - and that is the MySpace page for a US horror magazine to which I have sold articles and reviews. There is a wonderful option on MySpace that makes me smile everytime. It says (and I'm editing it slightly to make it more accurate to my page) - "View all of my friend".
Many people might find this kind of position sad and enter despair. I'm not one of them. I do not have many friends. Okay if I am honest about it - one. Don't feel sorry for me - I have a wonderful wife and we are all the company we really need, and after fifteen years we are still blissfully happy together (stop gagging, I won't go on any more).
Most of the people I knew from days gone by (school, university) moved away, settled down and had kids.
You keep in touch for a while and still count them as friends until that last one enters the fray - kids. We have none. Neither myself nor my wife have ever wanted children. I don't like them. I've lost count of the times I've seen new parents' faces drop when I utter my response to either "Do you want to hold him/her/it?" or "Do you want to see pictures of my baby?" (I answer "Not overly" when asked by the way).
When you don't have children all your friends who do drift away - you lose anything to talk about. Most parents (rightly so) are child-obsessed. But it does mean those of us who are not parents are pushed to the outside. You encounter all kinds of things that exclude you. Even the word family seems to have a formal definition that requires a child.
None of this is a complaint. Just so you know I am not the type to moan about this. I made my decision about children and I think I made the right choice.
So these networking sites seem to be a kind of anathema to my life, but still I use them. Well I am going to admit one thing. If it wasn't for this crazy dream to be published I wouldn't.
But the blog side of it caught me. The ability to just pour words out into a blog site has grabbed me. I never would have thought I would have mentioned my father and his recent death but I did, and I received one or two friendly comments having done so.
Even the mundane - comments about TV shows and music - I find cathartic to blog. Get my thoughts together in some semi-coherent form published on the web. Even if no one ever reads them, the experience of writing them is a good one.
So, can a relatively friendless man get satisfaction from networking sites. Yes.
Oh and I do have many acquaintances, both through work contacts or internet - I have been a science fiction fan for three decades and reviewing titles for a decade or so, posting many to the net (under my real name which is deliberately hidden from this new "professional" writing persona) so I have managed to make e-contacts and enjoy these email conversations but I have met relatively few of these folk. I prefer my peace and quiet, contact at my pace, when and where I am ready.