Claudia Winkleman: Take It From Me

'I haven't spoken to the kids for days. My son asks me to read him a story. I read him out messages from Facebook'
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The Independent Online

"You haven't heard of Facebook? What are you? Dead?"

Let me explain myself. The story starts 11 days ago. So I'm lying on a sun lounger (you need to know nothing else, other than my bikini-I'll-only-eat-snack-a-jacks-diet is going better than expected thank you) and my friend is reading a piece in The Observer about who is who on Facebook and who are the coolest people in the media on Facebook etc. He's in it and he's excited. He makes a comment about writing something on Yentob's "wall" and he applies some more factor 30 to his nose.

I sit up and exclaim: "what on earth is Facebook?" (when I say sit up, I mean I try to elongate the side of my leg while I stretch my neck out whilst also placing a sarong over my abdomen.) No joke if I actually sat up in broad daylight people would be physically sick on themselves. Two C sections and no sit ups later and it's not attractive. Think jelly and lard sandwich. A large one.

Anyway, that's the part when my friend leaps from his sun lounger pointing and laughing at me as if I had just admitted to not really understanding how you download songs from the internet (seriously, while we're on the subject, if you do know, drop me a line. What am I doing exactly when I get to iTunes?). Still, the moment passes and the weekend continues without a hitch (other than me accidentally throwing my husband's Blackberry in the pool – but that's a whole other column) and the minute the flight touches down I'm on the computer and I register with Facebook.

So I don't really do web community stuff. I've always thought MySpace sounds like a new estate agency in central London run by two men who favour large-lapel suits and goatees.

Sure, I watched Kate Moss sing with Pete Doherty on YouTube ("I'm a peanut. You're my peanut. We're both unfathomably thick") but that's all I've ever got involved with. I use the computer to write this, order overpriced T-shirts from America and buy the weekly shop from the little man at Ocado.

Facebook it turns out, is like MySpace but it's not scary. There aren't a lot of angry looking people with nose rings and um, issues. Facebook is the first class of social networking. If MySpace is Camden Lock then Facebook is Harvey Nichols. There aren't too many graphics. It's navy and it asks you a few questions and before you know it you're on board. It doesn't hassle you at all. There's a little reminder about whether you want to find any friends or poke any friends (not as exciting as it sounds – it's a virtual poke. Not as in penetrative sex but as in "you're it") and some people start up groups or networks called things like "Chanel Lovers Unite" (I joined immediately) and "Rod Stewart is a Rock Legend". Confused? Stay with me...

My husband laughed at me (this is why I feel less guilty about the Blackberry-in-the-pool incident) and said that people who went on Facebook didn't have a life. He pointed out that my "friends" on Facebook were my best friends in real life anyway We text and speak at least four times a day anyhow. So, I reassured him that it's never going to take a hold. I remind him I don't have an addictive personality and I explain a website where people share their thoughts/feelings for the day (Today Sam is giving up smoking or today Lucy is thinking of having highlights) is sort of moronic and I'm never actually going to go on it more than once a month.

Cut to the present day. Quite frankly, had Liz not pointed out that Tony Blair had left 10 Downing Street in a message on Facebook (she also sent me an imaginary gift by the way – cool) I would never have known it. I haven't spoken to the kids for seven days straight. My son asks me to read him a story but I just read him out a few messages from Facebook, give him a mini pack of Coco Pops and put him in bed. The teething baby wanders around the house in an old Babygro and I'm letting her administer her own Calpol and Bonjela these days. I simply don't have the time to come off the computer for an instant. You never know – someone could say that they're wondering when the football season is going to start or someone might start a virtual food fight (bagsy chuck the jar of pickles).

My husband, I think, has started sleeping with someone from the office in protest. But you know, it'll never last. Bet she's not cool enough to be on Facebook.

I am on a downward spiral. And it's headed for hell. I am already in a slight panic that I might have changed my profile photo too many times. Facebook, I'm learning, is like a man. You have to be smiley and fun and witty but sometimes you have to play it cool and just ignore it for a couple of hours.

Basically, I am having a relationship with a bit of software. The boy who created it is 23 and just turned down $1bn for his company. He knows it's worth way more than that. Anyway, my point is this: Don't bother to get a life. Just get on Facebook.

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