With 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…
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?