With Strings Attached

social network comicWith Strings Attached is the comic we chose to launch with for a few reasons. As most of you will have probably guessed, it’s a comment on social networks and perhaps, Facebook in particular.

The inspiration came before I learned how to turn off my online status on Facebook and people kept writing me to say ‘What’s up?’ – totally interrupting my train of thought at the time. It seemed to me that people were just bored and were pulling at my attention with a little string.

When I first started traveling I got hardly any letters from friends while I was on the road. The effort of writing something on a piece of paper, putting it in an envelope and then walking down to the post office was just all too much, apparently. Then in the following years I got hundreds and then thousands of emails, proving to me that it was all about convenience. But then it seemed that people didn’t even have the energy to write a message any more, you know, with actual paragraphs and a greeting, and instead they just summed up the instant desire to communicate with What’s up?

Sheryl Turkle goes into this with revelatory depth in her excellent book on the subject, Alone Together.

In her book, Turkle makes the point that we can’t get enough of other people but only a little bit at a time. Why should I talk to you when I have the entire world in my pocket on my phone? Are you as interesting as them? As entertaining? As infinitely varied? Sorry, you just don’t compare so if you don’t mind I’ll just pull another few strings…

facebook comic satire

An early version of the social network man

This was the comic where Nadine started using these dreamy background colours that set the tone for the whole story. Nadine also created such an evil-looking character to be the social network guy; there’s something unsettling and sleazy about him, like a conductor with his own private, invisible orchestra of faraway ‘friends’ and contacts.

Viola, of course, is totally unimpressed. I just love the scene where she ties her bit of string to a tree and departs. How many of us dream of doing just that?

Read the comic With Strings Attached!


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  • Thank you Tom for sharing Sheryl Turkle’s interesting talk, I love it.
    “we are lonely but fearful of intimacy”

    It is crazy how things changed so fast, how much connected the whole world became. How did people connect before? How did you know what and how everyone is doing? And how suddenly it feels like the social networks existed all the time!

    I noticed how much I feel lighter when I’m travelling and have no access to the Internet and I still refuse to have any “smart machine” that will keep me connected wherever I go.
    I actually feel I need to be more disconnected than ever and I appreciate the minority of people who don’t have a facebook account for example.

    Is there a way back to when relationships were more real?
    Where is all this leading to? It scares me sometimes as I find myself opening facebook without even knowing why! it scares me to look around me and see people sinking in their iphones and ipads and not noticing everything that’s happening around them.
    “we are too busy communicating to really connect with the people we are with in the ways that would really count” as Turkle says.

    I agree that we are missing the time to sit alone and do nothing, we are missing the sunsets and the sunrises, the spontaneous wandering in the forests, the real communication with people. And also, meeting people randomly not because
    facebook suggested to.
    The real world is fading away and we are watching it from behind the screens.

    I often ask myself if one day I’ll be able to just depart as Viola did!

    On the other hand, I really enjoyed creating this character, as a Hindu god/music conductor, who’s always busy and clumsy with the million strings. He gives the impressions that he’s really doing something important and barely has the time to answer Viola.