When we first joined Facebook we thought the poking business was really, really annoying. So much so that we were looking at ways of renaming it as prodding. But as time as gone by, and more people have joined our little bit of it, we’ve started to use Facebook as a friendly way of keeping passive tabs on our friends. And the poking is a vital part of that. It says ‘here I am JH’ (apologies to Terry Gilliam), I’m thinking of you/with you… even if I’m not physically ‘with’ you. And that’s rather nice isn’t it?
It also reminds us of something we were taught as Nightline counsellors back in the day. Nightline was like The Samaritans for university students – a listening service. One of the techniques it teaches is that of ‘tapping’. lf a caller can’t or won’t speak, counsellors are told to ask them to just tap the receiver, ‘So that I know that you’re still there’ and, of course, so that a connection is made. It wasn’t unheard of for these ‘conversations’ to go for hours… in utter silence but with a presence felt. The poking thing is similiar — it says ‘I’m here with you’ without words needing to be spoken — a communication of presence. And sometimes, that’s all you need.