I, like many others, cease to function if I am not connected to the internet. I hate this as I am the first to rant at people that I miss the good old days when, if you agreed to meet a friend, you made the effort to be there and on time and that life should be held on a face to face basis rather than via text. However, I have started to become alarmed recently at how some others, people of my generation, are using to replace real people in their life.

My local town has a Facebook site for local people to share information, lost and founds etc. This is not a network of friends, just people who happen to live in the same area. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw on it someone asking if anyone would like to look after her house while she went on holiday. Another woman was asking what she should do about her son’s drug habit and another wanted to ask if she should take her waste of space boyfriend back. I have a lot of time for the good people of Basingstoke, but I doubt very much that this kind of help is going to be gleaned from the great unwashed public at large.

These people seem to think that the information they share with their nearest and dearest, and advice that should probably only be given by trained professionals will come to them in a public forum designed to complain about drains, find lost cats and shame careless drivers. Are they so lonely that the only friends they have are unknown to them personally? Are they watching too much Jeremy Kyle and think that it is OK to share all your dirty laundry with total strangers? Is our society becoming to focussed on our laptops that we cannot help genuine people in their hour of need unless they contact us via the internet?

It is a fact that to promote a business and to stay in touch means using the wonders of the world wide web. I love it. As a photographer people can see my work and I am able to share and promote it easily. I am also a pretty crap mate when it comes to keeping in touch. Facebook allows me to tell all those who count a little of what is going on in my world, share the good times and the jokes, without having to repeat myself a thousand times to different people on the phone. However, it does concern me that I seem to attract people I don’t know, who the feel they can share all the horrors of their lives with me, whether I want them to or not. I know nothing about them. I don’t know any of the people they talk about or how the situations they find themselves in have arisen. I am, concerned that if I offer advice I will say all the wrong things and I only know their side of the story.

I am not talking about little issues here. A woman I only know of because we post pictures onto the same Facebook page sent me a private message recently telling me that she wants to leave her husband and what do I think. Another asked me if her drug addict son could come and stay with me to give her and her husband some time out. I don’t know either of them. I have never met them face to face and they don’t know anything about me, apart from what they see on the internet, my public persona. If they knew some of the chaos in my life they wouldn’t be sharing theirs!

How did we get to be like this? Why haven’t they got a friend with an unending supply of tea bags and a broad pair of shoulders? Have we become so focussed on our screens that we cannot see the people who live next door, across the road and down the lane that need a kind word and a sympathetic ear? I worry about how our society will develop. I really do.

And now I am going to get off my computer and ring my mates to see how they are……