Social Media Stress

I’ve had this post ready to go in various iterations over the last year or so, never really ready to post it, and continuously changing it. This is mostly due to the ongoing changes I’ve seen in social media – and more specifically how they relate to me. But a trend I have started seeing become more ‘popular’ made me decide to finally post about this – the cool thing is to actually leave social networking!

A lot of the various social media blogs (and even those that aren’t, because anything talking about this topic is link bait and easy ad revenue) have started writing numerous posts on how to delete your accounts, how relaxing it can be to not want to check Twitter obsessively. But I bet you – over half of those users ended up coming back to various social media sites, probably because they couldn’t actually kick the habit. But if you have gotten this far – I really feel like you are looking at this all wrong.

One (almost laughable) issue I have personally seen is various friends of mine on Facebook actually complaining about information overload, and trimming their friends, somewhat making them seem some elitist because ‘they have too many friendships or to popular’. And these aren’t people ‘into social media’ – they are the ‘OMG I can play with my virtual farm and ‘like’ Adam Lambert on here!’ type of users. I mostly find this funny – because those people really are doing nothing more than trying to inflate their ego, probably because they have nothing better to do. Doing this – trimming your connections on a social network, or heck, even in real life – is normal, and one thing that makes these sites dynamic and interesting to me. No one is telling you who you have to be friends with. But ‘bragging’ about it really is just being egotistical.

Which gets me back to my point – if you are having to think about this (or having to ‘brag’ about it) – you honestly are doing it wrong. We should be embracing the connectivity to other people, not annoying ourselves that we probably wouldn’t relate to outside of social media.

TechCrunch (who I really can’t stand) actually posted a great post about this today, saying “If you have social media fatigue, you’re doing it wrong“. I have felt this way for a while (not fatigued, but the gist of the actual post – it shouldn’t matter). If im tired of listening to someone complain or talk themselves up continuously, its pretty easy to rid my life of it. I shouldn’t be reading my twitter feed and keep on saying ‘man, this person is annoying’. I shouldn’t care about their feelings – for two reasons: 1) Theres a pretty huge chance they don’t care about mine, and 2) if they really get upset because someone stopped following them, they honestly need to get a life.

I have had very similar experiences to what is mentioned in this post – just general communication that either helped me or someone I know:

  • Impromptu meetings to get to know someone new (be it at a concert, outing, etc). If I am at something with others, we probably share similar interests
  • Met new clients to do some side work for, helping both me and them
  • Answering a programing, computer, local area, or automobile related question someone I follow has
  • Learned a new method (be it in programing, photography, or anything) that someone I followed shared a link to.
  • Met awesome people who I may not have met otherwise

I know writing this post is actually almost calling myself out on the topic I actually am speaking on – and I’m not trying to do that. I could easily tell you how I cut about 1/3 of the people I follow on twitter and started removing some people from Facebook. But this cleanup isn’t even social media related – I have been deleting tons of music and photos I have built up over the years – to make things easier. I removed about half of my RSS feeds (which I will write about soon) to stop wasting my time reading the same old thing. We generate so much media today that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend it all, and most of it I am sure is not needed.

I use all these technologies – Social Media, RSS, Blogs, etc – to learn and share. Outside of that – social media gives us the benefit of meeting new people and even connecting differently to people we know. But if it’s getting you down – you really need to first decide what you planned on getting out of it – before removing yourself completely and blaming others for it.

Remember – when you are consuming media (be it articles, blogs, or even less than 140 character blurbs on Twitter) – you are the one that put yourself in that place.


2 thoughts on “Social Media Stress

  1. Jon – This is something I go through everyday. Or more precisly everytime I check my facebook. I like parts of facebook. For example, I like knowing that my friend recently visited Italy, so that next time I see them I can ask about that. It makes it easier to get to intersting parts of conversation – don’t have to deal with the fluff.

    I also really like using it as a way to promote the podcast. It is easy, timely, and the listeners can actually sneak a peak at pictures, audio clips, news articles.

    However, I’m also in that group that you mentioned at the beginning of the article…the kind that is worried about overkill. I find myself either checking it 2x a day out of boredom, or even looking at people’s updates and questioning why they would put that out there. Obviously, that is not the intention of social media.

    I recently heard an interview with Aaron Sorkin (writer of the upcoming Facebook movie) talk about how he doesn’t like facebook. He considers the social aspect of it to be fake, like it isn’t real interaction. I agree with parts of that discussion.

    That is really a whole other topic, but definetly something I found interesting. Is facebook/social media discussion real?

  2. I totally agree with you about not dealing with the fluff – I really like that. I have found (even within our mutual group of friends) that this will actually lead to more detailed and interesting conversations in real life. It’s not the usual small talk about what you have been doing all summer, its finding out the cool details and good stories since you somewhat know is already going on. And I think this is good.

    And as you said – its great for promotion too. We actually got our ‘clients’ at work to start using Facebook and Twitter, and the interest has been huge. Though, not only do you have to be timely, you really have to not be annoying as well. Your implementation of Facebook for the podcast is great – but I know many friends/acquaintances that promote themselves/something who are constantly in your face or putting on a show.

    I also feel that emotion gets brought into this too easily. I think that a lot of the people who ‘follow to many people’ really are scared of either hurting someone’s feelings or think they always have to be in the know. At least in some of the local Richmond people I have seen (mostly on Twitter), its very much a clique and you are almost shunned if you don’t follow so-and-so. I could care less, and after I made a change online with this – its SO much nicer.

    Consuming the data isn’t a bad thing – unless you are over consuming, loosing information, or wasting time. Its impossible to follow more than 200 people on twitter (I feel) without loosing something. If you enjoy the constant stream of information – its not a bad thing.

    I don’t think social media has an intent, other than just social interaction on the internet – its been there forever. I think people fail to realize there are sometimes other people consuming your information, so today it becomes more of an echo chamber or huge ego trip. My pure rule is that if you have to think about it – your not doing it right. On the other hand – who says whats right or wrong – that’s just my view.

    I consider a lot of it to be fake, mainly due to the somewhat anonymity of the internet. Or even if you know the other person – the disconnect of being there with them. So I agree with Sorkin. Deborah mentioned to me that she read that almost everyone in the movie doesn’t use/like facebook. I also know that with Trent Reznor (of NIN) – who did the score for this movie – has some major problems with social media that we are talking about here (if you look back to when he ‘dropped’ twitter – it was due to crazy fans and general lies).

    I have had many real discussions online. And for the most part, I think a lot of its real. But I think it changes the way some people would act – and almost can be more truthful that in person. Its sad that some people I have known for a while now expose themselves so much differently (and almost offensive or generally fake trying to boost their ego), that it turns me away from that person. I have felt that when I then see these people again in person, you could somewhat see that personality all along.

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