Face facts, I'm bored with MySpace

Remember a few weeks ago I couldn't get enough of talking about MySpace and all my hundreds of cyber mates?

Well guess what, I've discovered Facebook and I'm now spending less time on MySpace. Like everyone else up and down the country, it seems.

Facebook is awesome, it's a bit complicated when you first set everything up and then, bingo, it's all time-consuming and completely addictive.

I had to get in on this phenomenon after virtually everyone I met in bars, clubs and business meetings trilled: "Ooh, are you on Facebook? You've got to get on Facebook. Aren't you on Facebook yet? Oh, I'm on Facebook ..."

It was also irritating getting emails all the time from associates 'poking' you to get involved in the Facebook revolution. You can only get 'poked' so many times before you lose your cool!

So I joined up. Straight away I was getting 10 or 20 emails a day telling me who'd uploaded new photos and what so many of my fresh set of virtual friends was up to.

Sometimes I just feel staggered by technology. Like there's this thing
called Skype that gives you completely free phonecalls to anywhere in the
world, complete with a webcam.

You can just leave the line open for as long as you want while your mate in Brazil wanders round their flat making cups of coffee and leafing through the mail, just calling them back to the computer if you need them.

It's mad. I can't believe everyone's not on it. We're all on Skype at the
office now, calling each other at our desks. I'm getting on all my
colleagues' nerves by constantly saying: "Why doesn't the whole world know about this?"

Having said that I don't believe any of this virtual networking will ever
replace the real thing, face to face contact, a real life conversation. I
notice people I deal with are often bold and even bolshy on email or through Facebook or whatever, then when you meet them in real life they're shrinking violets with no confidence.

Stuff like this is very easy to hide behind and it's my opinion that young people are shyer than ever and as short as ever on social skills that you only learn through experience and a few more years.

All those hours online won't make you any less likely to chicken out of
saying hello to someone who intimidates you a tiny bit for fear of them
'snubbing' you in some way.

Facebook, of course, is also dangerous - Fresh readers, be wary of your new boss stumbling on photos of you blitzed and grinning with a traffic cone on your head that your mate's helpfully posted, complete with your name .

If I was your manager I'd probably just think it was highly amusing but if your boss is a straight-laced rising star in financial services, with a sense of humour bypass, they might not.

I love smokeless pubs

It's only a few short weeks since the smoking ban came in to force in our
pubs and clubs but what a difference it's made!

I absolutely love being out and about without the stink of smoke on my
clothes and the sting of it in my eyes. Good venues have outdoor smoking
areas which those lighting up don't seem to mind, and probably like because they offer different social possibilities - like a quiet little smokers' chat on a big rowdy night out, an excuse to gather in a huddle with someone you fancy.

Some clubs though, I heard, are charging people to get a 'pass out' to go
for a smoke on the pavement, which seems pretty shoddy behaviour.

Now the latest is that cigarettes are going to get horrible pictures of
smokers' diseases on their packets. Nasty though they'll be, I can't see
them being too much of a deterrent. Smokers don't seem to think about the
way they smell, their dirty teeth, their health, the possibility of a fatal illness .

Even that advert with the fat dripping from the end of the fags didn't seem to bother people I know. To me, that was perhaps the hardest-hitting advert I've ever seen, it looked so disgusting.

My mum stopped smoking overnight three years ago when she was told by
doctors how ill she was. People only seem to stop after they're told they're suffering from ill health - and not because smoking is a health risk.

I'm always on at my sister, a smoker, to give up. When she asks what I want for Christmas or my birthday, I say: "For you to give up smoking, that would be the best present I've ever had in my life." She really wants to give up but she finds it very difficult. I'll carry on encouraging her until she gets there. That's what families are for.