A sound like "ping" went off in my head when I read this at the BBC just now:
Don't be lonely at Christmas timeThis has to be the saddest thing I have ever read about loneliness. Why didn't they tell them to get a ham radio, tune in a quiet frequency and listen to the static? Better advice: get in touch or even go to where people are. Maybe call that person who used to be a friend, acquaintance or even a distant relative before you got involved with computers. Too, you know, personal? So go to a church or three even if you are indifferent. People will talk to you. Too ardent for that? Then go help at a shelter and volunteer. Too selfish for that? How about you go to a hotel restaurant and chat to the waiter a little too much. Too agoraphobic for that? Then start shouting out your window at passers by. Either they will talk back or they will call the cops who will talk with you. Worked for Scrooge, it could work for you but whatever you do - back away from that computer.
Social networking sites could eventually eliminate entirely the need for the offline socialising that has become the cornerstone of the festive season. Most people have heard of Facebook but there are plenty of rivals vying for its crown. The BBC News website dips into some of the more interesting alternatives in a bid to make sure that no-one need be lonely this Christmas.