That sucking sound? Your life and Social Media

RonScottDownTheDrain At some point in everything we get involved in as human being will suffer some sort of backlash, whether it be on a personal level or a group level. With the rapid growth of Social Media and all the services that feed off of it, like Twitter, it isn’t surprising that some people are feeling the crush of having to be immersed in the whole thing.

There have been times myself where I have sat back and wondered what the hell am I doing. With my attention being split in so many directions and feeling sometimes like I will never catch up I can relate to this sense of drowning in the river of news. It doesn’t help as we move further into the many different interpretations of the real-time Web – if anything it may only speed up this sense of frustration or constant struggling to keep up.

One blogger who I really like reading related the other day his sense of struggling only to come to the decision that it was time for him and social media to part ways. Granted it took a week of enforced absence from the web as a whole before Jay Cruz realized this tipping point had been reached but he was good enough to share his reasons why in a post.

That’s one of the biggest reasons why I’m quitting social media services like Twitter and Tumblr. I just can’t do it anymore. I realized that at best social media is entertainment disguised as “useful” information or crowdsourced “knowledge”, and at worst is distraction disguised as entertainment. The later being most of my experience with social networking sites, specially Twitter.  See, when you watch Television to kill time and distract yourself because you’re bored, it is easier to realize it. Most TV junkies are aware that they are TV junkies. But the web is constantly shifting your attention and it makes it harder to realize that you’re distracting yourself.

This distraction factor only get worse with more and more Social Media services try and ramp up their versions of the real-time web. While people like myself; who are constantly treading water in the river of news, have the time to be involved in Social Media to the extent we are not everyone has that luxury.

Some people like Mark Dykeman are in that group. They have a live outside of the time they spend online. They have real world jobs that are not related in anyway to Social Media or the Web. They have families that require much of their time. For them things like Twitter and Facebook can seem daunting but at the same time they find a middle ground where they are comfortable.

As Mark points out in his post not everyone is happy with the shallowness that people try to sell as the new friendship.

I cannot (and, truthfully, do not want to) spend gobs of time monitoring the social media services, keeping up the weak ties with a wide variety of interesting and smart people that I’ll probably never ever meet in person.  My motivations and focus have changed during the past few months to what I’ll call a more pragmatic approach to social media.  I do find it interesting to develop new weak contacts, “friends”, whatever you want to call them, but at the same time I’m reminded that my mother and other people of her generation used to collect charms and put them on charm bracelets.  Similarly, there’s the Scouting movement and merit badges.  If this seems impersonal, heartless, or at least cynical, well…  take another look at audience building behavior, because some people are collecting things (people instead of badges) in search of some greater reward (attention, reputation, business deals, sales, and so on.)

The fact is Social Media and all the related services can be a really big time suck. The ease of putting one’s thoughts out there, either in a blog post or in a 140 character tweet, can be addictive especially when we see people we don’t even know replying, or commenting.

Finding that middle ground, as hard as it can be to find, is something to be envious of sometimes.

[picture courtesy of Ron Scott]


  1. 09/06/09 at 9:10

    One other point worth mentioning is that some of the more active and vocal participants in social media services actually do know each other in person via the conference circuit, business dealings, ****Camps, and other gatherings, so there probably is a lot of genuine friendship and camaraderie out there. However, that can be hard to tap into from a distance.

    As for balance… I try often, fail most of the time, and occasionally succeed at balance. But I'm getting better. :)

  2. Pam Barry
    10/06/09 at 7:21

    The addicted will continue, the rest of us have to find the balance.

    Even Millennials/Gen Ys will eventually spend less time as their life changes. We all had plenty of time to spend in our early years but most of us are not as engrossed in the same interests now.

  3. 10/06/09 at 9:26

    Thoughtful post on the downside of social media over-indulgence.