Social networks.

I spent some time in a social network last night. No, I didn’t use Facebook. I actually went to dinner with my wife and thirteen friends at a local chinese buffet restaurant. We ate and we talked, occasionally at the same time, yet kept the spitting of food to a minimum. Most of us were active politically, so the cardinal rule was not politics, but we managed to find things to talk about anyway.

A brief mention of Facebook ("You only have 23 Facebook friends?") led me to recall why I generally prefer spending actual face time with real human beings, even though I do spend more than enough time interacting with their electronic alter egos. Some folks feigned surprise that I would have even that many friends. Humorously, I’ll assume. :)

A couple of friends chided me because I didn’t have my laptop; they were sure it was under the table somewhere. One friend commented that the only time he hears from me is via my blog, so he thought he shoul be checking the blog to see if I was enjoying the evening.

So for Steve, yes I enjoyed the evening. Sorry that it took me almost 24 hours to confirm that. For Benton, thanks for organizing the dinner. I hope that it becomes an annual event. And to everyone else, my wife and I had a great time, and I’d much rather hoist a glass of wine (or green tea) and enjoy some good conversation with all of you than type words onto a computer screen any day of the week.

In fact, it reminded me of something my friend David Weinberger wrote a year ago today:

I myself have been showing disturbing signs of being compulsively human. I’ve noticed that I feel an urge I simply cannot control to be social. This really began to scare me when I tried not to talk and found that after a mere seven hours – seven hours! — I said, “Howya doin’?” to the bagger at the supermarket. I didn’t want to. It just slipped out. I couldn’t control myself. Ever since, I’ve given in to my urge – yes, I know, I’m sick – answering the phone when it rings, responding not only to questions but to mere pleasantries, and even initiating conversations when they weren’t strictly required.

It’s a nightmare. And it gets worse.

it’s not just that when I’m with others, I – ugh! – participate in destructive social rituals like caring what people are saying. Even when I’m alone, kind thoughts about other people invade my consciousness. I feel an impulse to wonder what they’re thinking and what matters to them. I try to focus on computing pi or to remember the 1955 Dodgers starting lineup, but I just can’t shut out those images and feelings

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