Are you going out on Saturday?” I ask my 19-year-old nephew. He shrugs his shoulders in response.
“But you’re 19,” I shout, “Of course you’ll be going out. You’ll be out Thursday, Friday, Saturday and – if your mum lends you twenty quid – Sunday too.”
He looked at me with indifference. “Not bothered,” was his reply.
But I was incredulous. “Not bothered? Don’t you want to go out and see your friends, meet new people . . . meet girls?” I persisted.
Now, my nephew is a social creature, not one to sit in on a Saturday night playing computer games eating Doritos, so his attitude baffled me.
Maybe he didn’t want to discuss the intracacies of his social diary with his nosey 30-something aunt who prefers Marks & Spencer to Topshop (better quality, shaped for women, not girls).
Then I realised. His impassiveness was down to one thing.
Now, like most of the rest of the developed world, I’m on Facebook and value the contribution it has made to my life. After all, where else can I keep up with the bowel movements of the baby of some girl I sat next to in French at secondary school?
However, this marvellous creation came long after I’d exited the dating scene and when my nights on the tiles were more regular than once a year.
See, thanks to Facebook, my nephew has no urgent need to go out because he’s constantly catching up with pals via social networks.
When they do meet up they have little to discuss as they’ve already posted it, shared it, instagrammed it and retweeted it.
If he does meet a girl, he can ‘add her as a friend’ on his mobile phone without delay. The link is established, there’s no mystery, no hours spent trying to remember the colour of her eyes and wondering if she’d like to share a Nandos after the latest X-Men movie but with no ways or means of actually find out.
I was armed with no such tools in my partying heyday. And they were all the better for it.
Apart from my immediate friends I had no idea who’d be out at the weekend. That boy, would he be out? If he wasn’t, where was he? Would I ever see him again? Who knew.
But that was all part of the fun. The anticipation. The not knowing.
When I finally met my other half-to-be there was a merrydance of six months when I would turn up in places I thought he might be. Hoping, waiting, eyeballing the door, contemplating his arrival while nursing a bottle of Bacardi Breezer.
I practically pickled my own liver in pursuit of love.
I’d badger his friends, asking if he was out to which they’d shrug and tell me they’d text him and had no reply. But then he did share the phone with his mum. Which was the size of brick.
And rarely had any credit unless he’d done that extra shift in Sainsbury’s.
Had we both been on Facebook in those early days it all could have been much simpler.
Firstly, I would have avoided that police caution for stalking (I jest).
But I would have found out sooner that he liked the Police Academy films a little too much.
And maybe run a mile.
So in hindsight, maybe I do wish Facebook had existed in ‘my day’. I’d have avoided all those Police Academy repeats . . .