A lot of us do it, don't we? Just to see if anybody has replied to our latest post - why on earth do we think anyone is interested in what we're cooking for tea? Or we "like" somebody's random status that is utterly meaningless in the real world. All these facebook "friends" that we've never met and are never likely to meet, who perhaps share some interest but in reality are probably just as boring and time-wasting as we are, desperately sharing our sad little lives with the rest of the world.
But reasons to be cheerful (part whatever it was - if you don't get that musical reference you're not old enough). Facebook keeps you in touch with what is happening out there. Local groups about your town or village have local events, newspapers and photographs. If you have a hobby, there'll be a group (or more) of like-minded people. Even if you have an illness, there'll be people there who can empathise with you and maybe offer emotional support. And mutual support is what it's all about, I think. Sure, there are "friends" of mine that I've never met, but they are people who have bought (or might buy) my books - they are interested enough in my life to comment on my posts, and I'm always careful never to post any personal details or exactly where I live. And there are the real friends - people I meet in the real world but perhaps don't see regularly, and it's a way of keeping in touch with each others' lives, making arrangements and supporting each other.
What about the ones in the middle? The people you've only ever met online but sound like they'd be fun to meet and you might have a lot in common? Well, I'm a big girl (yes, really) and I'd still never agree to meet up in a quiet place with people I don't know. In the past, I've met up with online friends and had a great laugh - in large groups in public places mostly, but there's a degree of common-sense and general world-experience involved. And I think everyone understands that and if they don't then they are probably not the people you'd want to meet anyway. I do know that I have online friends who I will probably never meet in the flesh, but they are good friends nonetheless and their friendship, support and advice is valuable to me.
I keep track of what my daughter does on facebook too. There's a degree of trust involved and in return for my promising not to reply to anything (and hence embarrassing her), she doesn't block her posts from me - mostly. I suspect there are a few things she doesn't want her mother reading, but I trust her and that's all part of being a parent. That one is probably down to the relationship every parent has with their child and we are all different.
But maintaining online relationships is a huge time-suck. Whole afternoons go past and I've done nothing other than banter with people, maybe offer opinions on book covers or pitches, or read some recommended blogs. And before I know it, it's time to go and cook tea and I've not actually done any writing.
And now it's 5.30 pm and I've forgotten to get the baked potatoes in the oven. But first I'll just check that last post....