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.

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The problem with too many media outlets

Nowadays, everyone can be a media outlet. Traditional media (newspaper and TV), new media (whatever the hell you consider it, including bloggers), even down to anyone with a twitter account or random blog. Obviously information is power – and having a lot of information on something can usually be a good thing. That is, until you have ‘to many cooks in the kitchen’, and leave everyone having to dig through all the noise to find something meaningful. And those who ‘break’ the story get the fame, until the next story comes along, and then no one cares.

I’ve been trying to write this blog post a few times, with possible titles as ‘Social Media Freakout’ or ‘Hyperlocal Hyperactivity’ (and I may use them in the future). But some events today led to a perfect post, that almost writes itself. Case in point, the ‘OMG UKROPS IS GOING TO BE SOLD!!!!!!’ flurry of tweets today. First of all – this rumor is nothing new. This rumor has been flying around for a very long time now. And heck, I even had my own say in it recently (before all of today’s events broke out). I’m not saying its not true – im just saying some need to stop contributing to the noise!

For those that don’t know, there’s two things that happened today. First an entry is posted on Food World that Ukrops has been out looking for buyers. Then there happens to be a forum post yesterday mentioning that there have been 29 liquor licensees applied for at ABC. While I understand the Food World article (I used to read it at slow times when I worked there), how can anyone trust a random forum post? There are even emails flying around (my wife got one) that even mention the sale value ($850 million).

Over these two events is then the hype machine that surrounds it all. To the point that RVANews leads an article mentioning the sale. Then you have the hype machine that is twitter cast its wrath all over the information. Local news affiliates (both NBC and CBS, as well the RTD) make mention of it, but at least dont contribute much to the hype. All this is good – twitter is almost like todays ‘small talk’, just only much more public, visible, and online. But with all this noise – you really have so much ‘he said/she said’ arguments, all targeting back to two random posts on the internet (and yes kids, not everything you read online is true). Twitter has got to be the fastest way ever in  humanity to spread ‘misinformation’ (misinformation in quotes, because no one knows for sure whats true, whats not. Somethings going on – just not many know what yet).

It’s hard to say in words how I feel about all this. I am complaining, but not really. I want my news as fast as everyone. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to filter all the noise. To the point that I would rather jump back a few years, and have more ‘solid’ news than fast news.

Sometimes this can be a good thing. A great example would be the plane crash in the Hudson. That was mentioned on twitter first, then brought to mainstream media. And all in all – handled in a very good way.

But let’s also look at the recent Michael Jackson tragedy. For hours the only trending topics on Twitter dealt with him. But you had people all over the world just plain out making stuff up! This got to the point where CNN (where we happened to be watching coverage) was jumping back and forth about what was going on. Obviously VERY few people in the world at that time knew what was going on – but social media freaked out the big guys enough to change their decisions based on whatever was more ‘hip’ at the time. And this all leads down into a downward spiral.

I wish I had recorded an AWESOME interview on CNN the next day. I don’t even remember the guys name – but he talked specifically on this topic. With all this going on – its hard for ‘true’ media outlets to also filter the noise, and therefore actually slowing the news down! Yes everyone may know something is going on – they may not know the truth.

TechCrunch is becoming more and more worthless…

For a while there, I was really starting to like TechCrunch. Something about their design, most of their stories, and even their ads (most of them relate to something I would ACTUALLY be interested in, like hosting). But recently, instead of a lot of their breaking news and/or very original content, they have been having to create a LOT of blog spam (very short articles on one site to link to another, mainly for only the purpose of gathering one of those all important page views), and really thinning down some of their content.

Case in point, their ‘story’ today about the Push Services API thats in the new Beta build of iPhone software 2.1. Its a VERY short paragraph that actually say much of anything other than try to explain what ‘Push’ means, complains about the iPhone 3G, then links to CrunchGear, another site in the TC network. If you go to the story on CrunchGear, you get an extra sentence or two, then it takes you to the REAL story, and full page on Apple Insider, a GREAT site.

I decided to make a pretty simple, yet blunt Tweet about the issue. Funny enough, a few minutes later, Michael Arrington himself (the ________ that runs the Tech Crunch network) replied. I then got a whole bunch of tweets from random people that follow him, mentioning that all of them had the SAME idea, but didnt speak up. I of course then cried for hours and hours that this random __________ blocked me.

So not only is the site becoming less credible, but seriously? If someone spoke out about a site I work on (which they do plenty of), I only use it as a boost to want to do something good about it. But to publicly proclaim that you BLOCK and don’t want to listen to your users? Now thats just stupid. Visitors come to your website (especially a tech site) because they want information. Not because they think a ________ like him is cooler than baby Jesus. Locking yourself up in a room and thinking this is going to make your website fail, and honestly right now…I hope one day it does!

Update: I just wanted to share this link about the NYT wanting to censor bloggers. Thanks Tripp!

Listening To: ‘ We’ll Meet Again’ by Johnny Cash (how ironic)