I began my blog last October because someone told me that Luddism and journalism were incompatible. I signed up to Twitter in December because someone told me that blogging without tweeting was a voice in the wilderness. I was a cyber-virgin and swiftly I became addicted.
I loved gleaning fragments from domestic tedium to craft into a story. I felt frantic affection for anyone who troubled to comment. Twitter interactions from strangers were more of a thrill than a phone call from an old friend - and an irresistible distraction from dusting and deadlines.
Most of all I was struck by the generous spirit in the Blogosphere. Veteran bloggers were tireless with tips and promotion; comments, unlike online reactions to newspaper articles, were always kindly. If people disliked a post they would pass on in discreet silence.
I was wary, however, of cyber friendships. Virtual hugs tweeted at a stranger's affliction, intimate comments between folk who had never met unnerved me. I was conscious that we can hone and airbrush and reinvent ourselves in cyberspace to impress those who would never see the reality and that affection, rapped out on a keypad, was facile. Twitter relationships were, I thought, a chimera - engaging and enjoyable, but worlds away from real friendship.
Then I went to the Britmums party. I met the flesh and blood behind the avatars. I was as thrilled as a film fan meeting my on-screen heroes, although if I'd predicted this I would have thought more carefully about my cyber identity. 'Ageing Matron!', shrieked across the party floor, unsettled my attempts to appear a rock-chick Girl-About-Town.
The revelation that astonished me was that these bloggers and tweeters, whom I have tailed for six months, seemed like old friends. That the reason I had followed so faithfully strangers' updates about hangovers, supper plans and their local weather conditions was that their characters and kindredness had seeped through my screen without my fully realising.
All of them were were as delightful as the blogs and tweets that had beguiled me. I returned home euphoric and chastened. Cyber-socialising is a new revolution and, I've discovered, it doesn't replace old-fashioned friendships, it multiplies them.