I returned from filthbook the other night with the predictable feelings – vacuously psyched-up, morosely enjoying the illusion of having done something, while knowing full well that a kitsch, peter-pan nowhere land had again managed to rob me of ninety minutes of my life, time which I shall never again recover. I came across my closest friend from my young adulthood –aged twenty-two, I’d broken off the friendship with him completely, an action that had meant a lot to me. There he was, taking a home-made quiche out of the oven, sending out his charming, playful, bashful smile in photos taken thirteen years later. Suppressing the separation-pain and necessity of the break – buzz, buzz, click, click – I click him the pre-formulated filth request – or, to use the official party language, I filth him – which he filths back, accepted, without message, some days later. So now we’re friends in filth on filthbook & if we meet, by chance, on the street in Edinburgh – him say coming up from one of the Cowgate pubs and me going down that street by the back of the Tron, past where the City Cafe used to be – we’re less likely now to blank each other, though the objective shame flowing under the swapping of Broughton High School news would only be the greater, because of the official link between us in the book.
It makes me think of card-carrying party members in one-party states; of course most of them know and knew in private that being in the pary is the lowest of the sheepish low; but being in the party can get you jobs, get you deals you wouldn’t have got, kid you into a tolerable self-image. Is that a bad-taste comparison? - however bad-taste filthbook may be, it doesn’t torture or kill you, like the apparatchiks did. I wonder. The middle-aged man sounding of in front of 104 filthy-friends about the coolest piece of 1990s techno he’s currently listening to – isn’t he desensitising a piece of his consciousness for ever, murdering it actually? And who are we, sitting with bags under our eyes, flicking through these posts – bystanders, curious for 0.25 seconds, the vicarious pleasure not worth the skin of scum settling thereby on the soul.
But must finish now. Writing this article, I’ve been neglecting my duties on The Book for far too long.