Or, Social Networking, if you prefer that term.
It’s everywhere, duh! Twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, MySpace (well, still kinda there), and dozens of others.
Seems like everyone is using it. And, often, overusing it. Apparently some young adults can’t go 20 minutes without using social apps… or withdrawal sets in.
Many older people are just as bad. Of course, when the seniors (or the US President) are Tweeting, perhaps its a sign that we need a new paradigm.. cuz how can it be cool if everyone is doing it?
I’ve read several news articles lately that say about 1/3 of people feel “overwhelmed” by the constant barrage of tweets, updates, emails, blog feeds, news updates, and so forth.
Do you find it invading your life to an unwelcome degree? Or are you already an addict?
I’m going to go admit something that many people will not: Social media, for me, is mostly a waste of time. About 2% is gold, or at least silver or bronze quality. The rest is trumped by the dog turds on the lawn of my apartment building.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hater! I love technology. I love apps. I love angst-driven musicians (oops, aside). I love innovation. But I’m not afraid to admit it: I am not a social media whore. I have tried most all of them, and found them less than satisfying. No, I don’t need therapy.
I am also not a fan of reality TV shows or other inane chatter that does not improve my own life. Call me selfish, but I also don’t care about the details of your visit to your cute gay dermatologist, your boyfriend’s snoring, or your ferret’s bowel habits. Nor would I impose the boring details of my personal life on quasi-friends, much less blast that crapola out to the entire planet. For the most part, Facebook is about as entertaining to me as those ugly (and primitive) personal websites at Geocities that everyone just “had” to have back in the 1990s.
I have a Twitter account (I check it twice weekly or so), and a Facebook account (maybe twice a month). I hear you laughing!
I have some military spouses and soldiers that I keep in contact with via Facebook, but that’s the only real reason I have it. I block all games, gifts, apps, and other annoyances there. If I want to know the intimate details of your life, I’ll come move in with you. Or worse, attempt to date you. At least then I might get a real meal once in a while, instead of virtual beers and flowers! And I’m still peeved that Facebook kicked Ener Hax off, for not being “real!”
Twitter I find a bit more useful, mainly because I appreciate the brevity of 140 character messages! And I can easily follow members who have similar interests, or un-follow them without offending them. And occasionally there’s some real news there that affects me.
But I also have a dozen personal and work-related email addresses (although I can check them all at once, via Thunderbird). And I have lots of websites to keep up with, and a few awesome blogs (especially iliveisl.com).
I refuse to let all the social messages eat into more than a few minutes of the 16 or so hours a day that I’m awake. I don’t use any social media at work. I have banned all social media apps from my phone. I am in control (or so I like to think!).
Of course, some of you kinda sorta do need Facebook and company. It helps promote your blog, helps get out word about your new Etsy stuff, or helps put a few dollars in your pocket in this recession. Or maybe it’s the only easy way to keep in touch with a good friend who lives a continent or two away. That’s awesome, and I applaud you :)
But for most of us, too often, social media is often just another form of couch potato-ism, right?). It’s right up there with funny kitten videos on YouTube.
Hmmm, just where on Maslow’s heirarchy of needs does Facebook and its kin fit in?
I can understand the “need” to feel updated or current (especially when it comes to shoe fashion). But social media doesn’t feed, clothe, or shelter you. Maybe it makes you feel part of society, or closer to your friends or grandma. Maybe it’s a way to discover an awesome new band, or get a coupon to your favorite restaurant, or orgainze a reunion.
But is all the so-called “information” (95+% of which is pure drivel) slowly driving you insane?
If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself a few questions:
- How many different types of social media sites/content do I really need? (probably zero, but I’ll allow you one or two).
- Why did I sign up for a particular site/app? Because I needed/wanted to, or simply because some bozo invited me?
- How many times a day do I really need to check in? For that matter, why every day?
- Does my job/work/relationship depend on me being well-versed in social media? (ok, some jobs do, I know).
- Have I had a friendship/relationship hurt or destroyed due to a social media faux pas ?
- Are social media apps taking time away from more appropriate means of human interaction?
- Is social media working for me, or am I a slave to it?
- Do I spend more time on [insert name of social app] than I do interacting with my real family?
- Would my reality collapse if I spent less time updating my “status” and posting trivial stuff?
- Should I limit my access, or limit the amount of time I spend on Facebook/Twitter, etc?
I could ask lots more questions like those, but I simply want you to realize that it’s okay if you take a few hours off. Heck, take a whole week. I dare you. If your friends don’t understand, maybe they aren’t your friends.. or maybe their brains have been zombified by social media.
It’s okay to cancel your membership on (or simply ignore) media sites you no longer want or need (although doing so on Facebook is quite a challenge). It’s okay to pare down your friends list on any site (including Second Life!). Real life will continue. It’s okay to not use every device in your arsenal to access every possible social media all day long!
Will Facebook (the current king of social media) reign supreme forever?
People’s attentions are fickle, and we are always looking for TheNextBigCoolThing.
When was the last time you logged into your MySpace account? Mmm hmmm.
Do you have any good tips for managing social media ? Or a plan that keeps you from going crazy? Do you place limits on your time tweeting/posting/updating, or are you already hopelessly addicted? Do share, if you wish. We can all use some good tips, or a good laugh!
For example, you can create Lists in Twitter to make it more manageable:
Or you can block/hide all or some of Facebook’s apps:
There are also lots of apps that automate/centralize your social media streams, but make sure you are cutting out clutter, or getting it all organized, and not just creating a barrage of more fluff!
Every minute you shave off checking your social apps is a minute that you can enjoy in the real world. Where there are beaches, family, flowers, dogs, and really cool stuff to see and do (and no batteries or 4G network required).
Social media, when overdone, reminds me of those tourists who are constantly hidden behind a camera or camcorder, attempting to capture every moment, trivial or not. I’d rather have actual memories of the real thing.
Gotta run… I’m walking over to my neighbor’s house. To talk to her face to face. Now that is being social.
And I won’t even tweet about it.