I’ve been experiencing social media fatigue over the last few weeks. I’m not sure why, and I don’t know how to stop it. What is interesting to me about this though it that social media is an entirely voluntary experience. I choose to log into Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, etc, and if I want to leave all I have to do is close my web browser. So why should I feel overwhelmed with social media when I choose when I want to interact with it?
Take a look at the right hand side of this page and you’ll see a list of links to a few social media sites I’m on. I’ve signed up for so many services, I can’t begin to assemble a full list. Tumblr, Posterous, Delicious, YouTube, Disqus, Google, Scribd, SlideShare, and on and on and on. My accounts on some of these sites are just placeholders in case I decide one day to use whatever features that platform provides. And what I’ve listed here just scratches the surface of what is online. What does the fact that there are websites like namechk dedicated solely to checking username availability tell us about the space that social media occupies?
This may perhaps be at odds with my last post, as there I was all excited about the growth of the third dimension of the social graph. But as social functions are built into more and more websites, we run the risk of being unable to isolate ourselves from others online if we want to. And why would we want to? Any number of reason I suppose, from frustration with spam to a desire for privacy to a temporary bout of misanthropy.
Remember that work/life balance concept you may have heard of? I wonder if we should begin to focus on a physical/digital balance as well as more and more people, companies, and brands enter the digital space. As high speed mobile internet access spreads, should we be working to grow the number or quality of the interactions we participate in in the real world to match? What happens when we shift more and more online to a hyperconnected web that lacks many of the nonverbal cues we use during in person interactions? How can we stay engaged and focused when we flit from platform to platform like a hummingbird amongst the flowers? And can we afford to take a break from social media to relax and focus on the real world without harming other’s perceptions of us?
Hopefully my social media fatigue will resolve itself soon. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll be observing more than participating – which is one of the pluses of digital interactions I suppose.