Are Friends Electric?


Many of us can’t imagine or recall a time when we hadn’t adopted alias or pseudonyms in lower case letters with “dots” and “@” symbols.  The Internet and email has made it easier to keep in touch in our ever shrinking global village.

Last year we had to move out of our house for a couple of months whilst we progressed an extension.  We were without Internet access in the flat we stayed in during that period.  It was strange how cut off we felt.  There is only so much you can catch up on on your work PC over lunchtime or outwith office hours.  After a few weeks, though I found it strangely freeing.  The space to find a place where I wasn’t bombarded with junk mail, spam and unimportant messages.  I discovered how much time I wasted surfing the net and coveting things I didn’t need.  I decreed to be more disciplined with my use of the Internet when we moved back into our renovated home.  Eight months on and I’ve been not too bad, although this blog could be the undoing of all of that…

There has been a huge growth in on-line social networks in recent years.  So far I’ve resolutely abstained from Facebook, etc as I recognise how much time I would lose browsing through it.  High praise to my friend Colin McA who has recently declared that he is abandoning his accounts on all such sites in favour of investing more time properly with those important to him.

When Friends Reunited first appeared all those years ago, I found it quite fun to see where all those folks from school had ended up and how life had panned out.  I remembered places and people and pranks and stupid things we had done in our teenage years.  Things that still make me smile or cringe.  People I had forgotten, long lost memories.  There were two people I intentionally looked for there and neither had registered. 

A fortnight ago I was helping out at the Sunday Club at our church as the usual teachers got a well deserved break over the summer.  There was a guy visiting with his son who was a similar age to my daughter.  As I took the register, suddenly the 18 years since I had left school vanished and I realised I was looking straight into the eyes of one of those folks I had been searching for on Friends Reunited in the past.  We spent a really heart warming hour or so talking of some of the things that had happened over those years, the places life had taken us and where we had ended up.  We recalled our past and looked to our future.  At 16, sat together in art and french classes sharing an interest in music, we couldn’t have conceived ideas such as mortgages or fatherhood.  I guess we had dreams for the future, concerns about what we should do after school, who we should go out with, etc.  It was so encouraging just to trade tales with big smiles and happy hearts.

Equally I recognise there are all too many times I don’t invest the time I should in keeping in touch.  There are people who are more precious to me than they will ever know.  And for all my self-righteous dissing of Facebook, here I am hammering into my keyboard trusting that YOU are taking the time to read my sagely musings.  What a bundle of contradictions I am!  And, yet, even in the few short weeks this blog has been up and running I have discussed life, music, faith, hope and love with a bunch of folks – some of whom I know better than others – some of whom I ought to spend a lot more time discussing these things with. 

Mike, I owe you more than a three minute phone call about grunge music and Soundgarden – sorry, bro!  I miss you.  Craig A – Isn’t it funny to learn of how, despite growing up in different parts of the country, the same songs coloured our world view and shaped our beings in those formative years?  Rich, great to hear from you in Sydney – you will never know how important your friendship was to me when I first moved to Edinburgh – many fond memories.  Craig B, I owe so much to your mix tapes for influencing my taste in music and introducing me to more great bands than I could recount.

So who knows where these musings land in the blogosphere.  I hope you enjoy reading them.  I hope we keep journeying together.

 “So now I’m alone
Now I can think for myself
About little deals and issues
And things that I just don’t understand”

From “Are Friends Electric?” by Tubeway Army

Yes, that IS on my iPod.  No, the sampling of it in “Freak Like Me” by Sugababes isn’t.


2 Responses to “Are Friends Electric?”

  1. 1 duncanmcf July 29, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    I’m thinking a Sabbath from internet could be a good discipline. Did it scare you to realise it was 18 years from school?

    I think the key is neither to go cold turkey, nor to be obsessed, but to use the technology to help you, rather than to hinder you. If blogging becomes an obsession, rather than a hobby, then stop for a bit. Not that I think it will. I think it’s an extension of how you can express yourself.

  2. 2 thestatethatiamin July 30, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    18 years didn’t really scare me…maybe it should have!

    My head is full of ideas for my blog – but I want to give people time to read what I post and yet keep their interest. Do I care too much about my blog stats? – probably.

    I am really enjoying thinking and writing…creative communication? faith? encouragement?

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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