Wednesday, 14 December 2011


This started from my reviewing my Christmas card list.

It’s that time of the year, isn’t it?  I like to think that I belong to quite a few communities.  But if I’m honest, I’m not sure whether I do.  So I need to analyse this.  Bear with me.  (Or don’t, click off now – but see my last paragraph.)
Years ago, I formed a concept that a community might consist of a number of people who might be thinking of each other at any one time.  The closeness of the community could be measured by the probability of that happening, and actual face-to-face meetings were an outcome of that probability.  Originally, and for many centuries, people had to be within walking or riding distance, so you’d be constantly aware of all that, and of the subtle shifts within it.  If you wanted to move in or out, you had to physically duck and weave.  I’m not just talking Jane Austen: even in my teens, in the fifties, you had to keep a bright eye open for who might walk up the high street or through the youth club door, and who they were with in relation to who you were with.  So communities shifted and mutated.
The theory held, with extension, after the telephone became cheap enough for parents to permit its use.  Although the interaction was long-distance, it still depended on the precept that you would be thinking of the person you phoned.  The nature of the community didn’t really change, it just stretched.  The relationships within it remained the same.  And of course you could always pretend not to be there, or ring off.
And then along came the internet, 2.0.  I started blogging, and that was fine.  Although I didn’t actually know any of the people, I could feel that there was a community out there, to which I could belong, within a rather reconstructed set of rules.  It was a bit like being at a conference in Dusseldorf  or somewhere, where you don’t know anyone but can easily relate, because you have at least a bit of common ground – and of course you can always walk away.
This is where we came in.  I’ve joined a few social sites, and I get invites to befriend hundreds of people whom I don’t know, will never know, and who only know of me as a friend of a friend of a friend.  That’s exactly like my Christmas card list.  I’ve got it down from eighty-something to thirty-six, just by eliminating all those with whom I feel absolutely no sense of community.
Am I being churlish?  Probably.  So I promise to do nothing but frivolous posts from now until 2012, starting tomorrow.


  1. I've simply stopped sending Christmas cards, except a very few to elderly friends who live alone. In about five years, no one has mentioned it to me. I wonder if anyone has even noticed.

    I love frivolity. Bring it on, dear heart.

  2. I had a friend once.

    I was going to continue, but talk of frivolities made me cease at the moment I spotted the word verification for this comment.

    Best yet, I kid you not:


    I'll enjoy typing that.

    ho ho ho

  3. As I was saying before you went aaahhhh in sympathy...

    I had a friend once, who was also a work colleague. I left the job in 1977. I met him & his wife & son again in 1979 & once more in about 1985. Haven't seen them since. They live 400 miles away & whilst I quite often pass near their town, I haven't made an attempt to call in. I haven't tried tracking them down online.
    We still exchange Christmas cards which is when I think of them fondly. I don't know if such thoughts are reciprocated but I'd be surprised if they were not.
    I'd be sad to exclude them from even that bit of my life. One day, when I have the time, I shall try to see them again. Or not.

  4. Do former colleagues count? They make up a community of sorts, albeit perhaps, a disfunctional one. I took early retirement to a chorus of "Don't be a stranger!" So, I took the trouble to send out a Christmas email with season's greetings, each year. I've stopped now, as I have recurring visions of that chorus being called through gritted teeth. Leaving the party before time, obviously causes a little resentment.

    On the other hand, blogging is wonderful. Bring on the frivolities!

  5. Trouble is when you get to my age, if you don't continue to send Christmas cards to your definitive list, they think you've died and you get a flood of notes asking "are you well?"

    WV is 'beardi' is that 'beardy' or 'bear di'

  6. Sometimes I cross a few people off my chard list. Almost invariably they then send me a card which makes me feel guilty and churlish.

    Mine are always late anyway.