So at home I am left with the netbook. Much as I claim to hate technology I seem to have rather a lot of it – I write this in a car en route to Wakefield and about my person there is a Blackberry, an iPod and a DSLR camera. A fairly standard amount of kit for me for a day out. The netbook is an Acer and represents one of the worst decisions I've made regarding purchases – I “saved” £30 by going open source rather than paying to have Windows installed. This would be reasonable were I a software geek but I'm not and so I have no end of headaches. Still, all of my excuses are poor and that I'm writing the column today is mostly due to it being a long way to Wakefield.
I've really thought about technology this week; Facebook in particular. Once upon a time I adored Facebook. Facebook was a line to my friends and family when I was travelling and living in the Far East. I was on regularly and the host of little red flags that greeted me each morning helped to alleviate the distance. But since returning to the UK, my love has waned. Partly due to Twitter but mostly due to a greater percentage of my time being spend with other people.
A typical day in Kuala Lumpur might have begun with a cup of tea on my balcony to watch the sun rise over the city. Laptop on, I'd catch the then-boyfriend on Skype for an hour before he went to bed then shower and start my day. I'd walk to my favourite Starbucks and work until early afternoon, drinking ice-blend mochas with the assortment of business people who frequented the city's coffee shops rather than pay rent for an office. People I knew by face but never spoke to. I'd head home in time to catch those just waking up back in the UK, usually catching the then-boyfriend for ten minutes on messenger. I'd then curl up with a couple of episodes of 24 before heading out to Gypsy Bar for a few drinks. When I got in later, everyone would be home from work. While I loved my life there, it nonetheless rested upon UK timezones.
A typical day now begins with the cup of tea the then-boyfriend brings upstairs for me. I shower, dress and head out to my car. I then join the commuters on the A40 and listen to Chris Moyles as I crawl towards the Forest of Dean. This is the only time I'll be alone all day. Eight hours in the small office I share with my boss and the admin officer (an office located behind reception and therefore sharing space with the front of house staff) is punctuated by meetings and phone calls. A proper lunch break is a rarity. Another 45 minutes in my car then home to the then-boyfriend with whom I then spend the evening. I love my life but am constantly making mental notes to check in with my friends more.
But Facebook has a significant function. Facebook is where we define our status. For some time Kathryn Ashcroft has been 'in a relationship with' the then-boyfriend. A little hyperlink listed my significant other on my profile for all to see. I defined myself in part through my relationship to this man. That status has changed twice in the last week. First things were complicated between us. Truly has there ever been a more attention seeking way to communicate? I won't pretend I wasn't attention seeking, I had news but was unable to otherwise announce it. For last Saturday night, I asked the then-boyfriend to marry me. I've been calling him the then-boyfriend because he said yes and is now the fiance. But our lives are not just our own and we felt it best that he let the boys' mother know in person rather than via Facebook. That done, I was then able to change my status for the second time and I'm now officially engaged.
Official was the term the fiance used. Somewhere along the line, we have begun to see Facebook as way to register such things. When my friend Jelly got married this summer, we visited them the following morning as they were updating Facebook. Her new married status joined the ceremony and the paperwork as the evidence for her miss to mrs transition. We told the boys last night – they were largely nonplussed with the youngest wanting to watch Thomas the Tank Engine and the eldest just wanting to confirm that we'd still be called Daddy and Kay – and when he put them to bed I made the second change.
Technology and love. The two are inseparable. Not so much because of my Facebook status but because my new and deeper commitment is to be reflected in what will replace the laptop. The fiance is planning a new networked system which means we'll be linked up. Forget marriage, we're going to be sharing a hard drive!