I never was one for parties. Higher heels and shorter skirts would enhance my social appetite, my mother told me, but parties surveyed from stilettos seemed to me the same cacophonous Babel as parties endured in the tweed twin set the churchwarden had outgrown.
My tentative opinions on coir-based composts and Primark polyknits packed no punch amid such fevered networking. I judged my impact on the number of handshakes I received, on the number of glazed eyes and, once, on a Valentine's proposition which turned out to be from an octogenarian with a urinary tract disorder whom I'd steered to the Gents.
Nowadays, however, social gatherings have acquired new meaning. My insights into vacuum cleaners and Bourbon Creams and my passing pleasantries to strangers are validated by a mark out of 100. At the end of a month of small talk I can measure my success with a Klout score.
Where once monologues about my daily routines would have cleared a room, they now collect a gratifying tally of followers - a gallery of smiling faces agog for the latest on my blocked drains. Doubt still creeps in, of course, but Progress allows me to check my stats to reassure myself that enough of those smiling faces are tuning in daily. This is not enough, though. They might be the sort who gaze glassy-eyed over my left shoulder while I'm in full flow, waiting for a more inviting opportunity. Therefore the sum total of replies in my comments box is essential evidence that I'm being heard and, in case some of my audience are speechless with awe, I get to install a device to record the number of people who 'like' my dronings.
All these numbers are agreeable proof that I am a Person of Consequence. The wallflower that was once me now dares inform a gathering of hundreds what I'm planning for supper. I can commiserate with strangers over their collapsed arches and flirt with folk ten years younger while anchored comfortingly in my fleecy slippers.
Nope, I no longer need high heels and short skirts to stand tall. I don't even need to leave the house. In fact, I dare not leave the house. What if a witticism occurred to me while I was lunching with friends and I was without the means to share it on Twitter? What if my Klout score tumbled because I was weekending away without my laptop? If a follower deserts me I need to be there on the spot to work out what I might have said wrong and to attract speedy replacements with an anecdote about my son's mischief with the loo brush.
It's a heady experience being a social triumph, but it's an exhausting one. Sometimes I mourn the days when socialising simply required me to skulk against a back wall with a cocktail sausage. But there's no going back. When, a few months ago, I mingled among flesh and blood in a party hall I recited my best tweets as an ice breaker and awaited encouraging interactions. But by the end of the evening I had no validating score show for it, besides one new follower and he, it transpired, was pursuing me to hand over the umbrella I'd left on his chair.
But guess what! When I told Twitter that a stranger had accosted me waving a long furled object dozens were agog. My Klout rating soared half a point and and four blondes and ladder supplier followed me. From now on, therefore, I'll wow the crowds from my armchair and save myself a fortune on evening wear and Ferraro Rocher. And so, dear cyber friends, please comment, retweet, follow and 'like' me so that I can tell my mother that she must overlook my M&S Footgloves because, although I'm inevitably in when she calls me, I'm now a social butterfly!
What do you think? Is the fact we can 'quantify' our social success among strangers a giant step for mankind or should we all get out more?