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August 18, 2009

Social Media Overload?

Sometimes I wonder if the world is getting a bit too well-connected. We have social media coming out of our ears, so much so that perhaps we're spending too much time on it and not enough on our real lives? Or maybe that's just me.

So far, I have a Facebook account, Twitter, something called Plaxo or Blaxo or something like that (the name is in an email at work). I've joined Twitterfeed's "Get Satisfaction" program to ask questions regarding that program. I've joined Stumbleupon, Digg, and one or two others. I've just activated a LinkedIn account (thanks, Scott :)) and I may be building my network on there. I have my blog here.

Much of it is interconnected. My blog posts are automatically posted to Twitter, which then automatically posts to Facebook. I have links to my blog on Facebook and LinkedIn. The aim is to get as much traffic as possible, and get people to interact by posting comments and the like. Twitter is designed to be a conversation, though it doesn't always work out that way (with a couple of exceptions, it really hasn't been a 2-way conversation for me). Facebook is where you can interact with your friends, whether it's through status updates, pictures, games, or what have you. Basically, everything is designed to allow people to interact online.

I don't have a problem with that. In fact, I actually love it. I love how Facebook has allowed me to hook up with a bunch of my high school friends who I had lost touch with. It's neat to see what people became and how their lives have ended up. I love how Twitter allows me to see what other people, both celebrities, pundits, and friends, think about certain issues. I love the how interactive it all is.

But sometimes, it just seems to be overwhelming. I haven't been as active on Twitter as I used to be, though I still do a lot (almost 1500 tweets!). I used to be all over Facebook, but now I'm not as much. I play Word Twist and just read status updates and look at photos, and that's about it (incidentally, hit me up for a Word Twist match if you're interested). I don't know what I will do with LinkedIn yet.

So far, it hasn't reached the point where I want to drop it all. What do you think? Are you getting overwhelmed? How do you moderate your social media usage? And do you like the way things are going in the social media issue?


  1. Yes, I do feel overwhelmed from time to time. For example, when I cottoned on to this post through a Plaxo Pulse message, I was reviewing Terms of Services agreements to decide whether I still found Facebook's ToSs unpalatable. Colleagues, family members, and even students have invited me to join them on Facebook, and to determine whether it really is necessary to join in order to collaborate on a current project, it seems I must join to find out.

    In the past, I'd taken steps like defeating all routine mail notifications from Yahoo!® Groups, and similar services, and collecting and concatenating RSS feeds to display cameos of them all. Even if I'd read up on one computer, Yahoo!® didn't know what I'd read when I logged in from another. However, reading such posts in a feed means that whenever you actually go on-site, messages you've read still appear to be unread.

    I dream of a day when feed readers, such as Flock, Google, PageFlakes, or Plaxo Pulse, will talk back to feed originators, marking read messages on the fly. I also hope to find another, when there's time to read carefully and respond thoughtfully to others in a variety of online social networks.

    I'm seeking tools that might enable both collection of, and direct responses to messages from multiple networks. I've heard of tools like that for blogs. Flock, for example, allows you to post directly to many blog types. Have you heard of anything like that applicable to multiple social networking services?

    Cheers, Paul

  2. Hi Paul

    Thank you so much for the long and thoughtful comment. Unfortunately, I haven't heard of anything like that, though I'm not as up on all of this stuff as I would like to be. It would definitely be worth doing some research, though.

    I use Noopod as my feedreader, but I haven't kept up with my blog reading that way, instead just going to the sites themselves. I use it mainly for blogs, though, which are never marked as "read" if you actually go to the web site, so I admit I don't have quite the experience you do with that.

    Sorry I'm not much help, but I do appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

  3. Hi Dave,

    It was a pleasant surprise to find that you had a very active new blog. The archives suggest that you've been posting here once or twice a day, on average.

    Such prolific blogging might explain decreasing activity on Facebook, or less frequent tweets on Twitter. Are there other reasons for those decreases? Is propagation of posts from your blog to other venues alleviating or increasing social media overload, concentrating or dispersing interactions for you?

    Cheers, Paul

  4. Hi Paul

    Those are all interesting questions. I don't know whether the blogging has actually been the cause of the decrease in tweeting and Facebook or not. I don't think so, because I've also lessened my going to those platforms and reading. Not by a whole lot, but somewhat.

    I used to go to Twitter every morning and try and catch up on what I had missed from the night before. I don't do that anymore. As for Facebook, I think part of it is trying not to overdo it for my friends. I see some friends have four or five entries in a row on my news feed and think that I don't want to do that myself.

    One thing I have noticed a couple of times is having something that I would normally tweet, and deciding that I want to expand it into a blog post instead. So that has happened occasionally.

    As for your final question, I don't think it has really done either. The overload is more in the accessing the media than trying to contribute to it. There's so much out there, so many places to check and keep up to date, that it can get overwhelming at times. I haven't contributed to most of the other places enough to actually make it feel like an obligation to continue to contribute, if that makes sense.

  5. Sure, Dave, that makes sense.

    Social media provide access to so much information, and offer so many connections to follow-up. They seem conducive to a never-ending pursuit of timely connected knowledge, of which contribution may then take a back-seat to consumption.

    Anyway, I'm glad I found this post; I enjoyed our conversation exploring ways of moderating, and possibly ameliorating, social media usage.

    Cheers, Paul


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