Monday, June 24, 2002

Friends and contacts.
Tinka at distantsun looked in on her blog to tell us that no, she's not feeling good, but she has people who looks after her. That is reassuring - but somehow it made me wonder what I really need to know. Distantsun has been one of my favourite blogs since I discovered it, but before she went on a hiatus I was wondering if I checked the blog controlled by the same mechanism that makes people stop and look at accidents.

I was never one of those who stop to stare, I was always more of the "let's get out of the way and let the ambulances and fire-engines have space" kind of a person. But the net invites this kind of voyeristic gloating over an other person's pain. As the original energy and intellectual analytical pleasure drained while Tinka poured it all into finishing her thesis, it was as if I stood by and watched her burn out.

In such occasions I wonder: is it possible to act in any really supportive manner? Tinka got a lot of very nice messages and well-wishes, and I was one of those who wished her all the best, but who knows - was that right of me? The illusion of broad and busy social contact which computer-mediated communication can give seduces those who are inclined to depressions and isolation into thinking that they actually have this many friends. One of the people I interviewed emphasised this: it's an illusion of human closeness, because you have such a wide net of contacts, you think you have a lot of friends.

It's hard to be a friend online. It's hard to find a friend online. I hope Tinka found some, it's good to know that she has more offline who look after her. And I don't think I'll look in on her site for a while. I still wish her all the best, but I don't want to be that person who stands and stares. If I can't be useful or supportive, I had better move on.

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