Social Network Fatigue and How to Fight It

Say what you will about Jason Calacanis, love him or hate him he certainly has the ability to get people talking. The subject now? No its not Mahalo, or SEOs, or even his dog Toro. Instead it was this post about Facebook Bankruptcy that started a snow ball of opinions from many A-listers and now thanks to this post yet another D-List blogger. Well I’ll give it to you as quick as possible so we can move on to some of the best ways to combat the dreaded social network fatigue syndrome.

While I’m a bit surprised to see it was Jason who brought this to the forefront the feeling has been growing exponentially for many. With the addition of each new web service yet another piece of digital real estate to follow and if you have time, maintain. I talked about this recently on my love fest of a post about Pownce where some users felt using the web site was like cheating on a perfectly good spouse (Twitter). For myself I like trying them all but certainly can’t even begin to use every single one on a daily basis. I can’t imagine how people with normal 9-5 jobs are able to without becoming unproductive on Office Space levels.

On social media sites I also run in what I call "loose circles" meaning I’ll accept a friend request from anyone. At one point my profile on MySpace had 50,000 friends until it was "mysteriously deleted". It was however no mystery that this profile (and others) generated tons of web traffic for me and believe it or not serious revenue. People like Jason and Robert Scoble are good examples of loose circle friends, social network whores even. In between their conversations about recent tech and personal news they sneak in their web properties. The messages goes out to 1000’s of highly engaged "friends" who typically click through and hopefully blog about it themselves. Great for them but what about those that just want a platform for communicating with or forming new relationships? How can you reduce the background noise and simplify your time spent on social networks?

  • Live in Tight Circles: Be a social prude and only allow real friends into your social networks. If the web site doesn’t offer you a way to lock you profile down fort knox style complain about it. Send them emails, blog it, and even better post it all over their site.
  • Do Something About it: Build applications that integrate these web sites into a usable fashion. Where is my simple form with checkboxes that allows me to post to (or read email) from several social networks at once. Do we have to wait till Web 5.0 when OpenID tools and free flowing data is more important than corporate greed?
  • Smash Your Cell Phone: Do you you really need to be so connected that even when offline you still binge on these web sites? Twitter on my cell phone? No thanks, I’m away from the computer I don’t care what CD you just bought or what’s for lunch. Unplug Neo, trust me those twits and status updates are archived so you aren’t going to miss much.
  • Go Outside: Something I should probably take my own advice on. If you find you’ve just spent the last few hours bouncing from network to network stalking friends you probably need some better off the grid friends. If you only spend these countless hours using social networks because you’re at work and your job is boring then quit. Might as well, you are just wasting their time and more importantly your own.

Obviously there is no easy answer here as everyones usage is different, the problem is like in real life we all have to coexist in these spaces. Maybe I’ll start a Ning network to help with this problem. Oh wait, I already have trouble managing the 5 networks I run there and 10 others I belong to….

(Disclosure: I don’t do disclosures but this one time when I was a kid I stole a pack of baseball cards from the supermarket. Also this post is biased and written at 3am which might explain why there are so many questions.)


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2 Responses to Social Network Fatigue and How to Fight It

  1. LoLo says:

    That image is priceless++ :P

    I simply do a disappearing act for days at a time whenever MySpace starts driving me nuts.

  2. That image DOES rock.

    Social network fatigue? What’s that?

    I’ve been on MySpace for years, I’m the earliest user to show up in most of my friends’ lists. I still only have 70 or 80 friends. It’s good for occasionally getting in touch with people I haven’t seen in years.

    I got on Twitter months ago, I do have some friends txt’d to my cell, but not all … I really hardly use Twitter, but it’s occasionally useful.

    Pownce was the first social network I’d joined and actually participated in heavily, in a while … I joined LinkedIn not toooo long ago, but have been, again, a fairly light user — add a new connection here and there, occasionally ask or answer a question.

    Pownce I’ve found to be a fun way of interacting with people. It’s also halfway useful. Through Pownce, I was convinced to sign up for 8apps, but I haven’t really explored it yet.

    Social network fatigue is a syndrome experienced only by those who choose to overdo the social network thing. You can lead a highly Internet-integrated life, keep your toe wet in the waters of Web 2.0, and never experience this “fatigue” of which you speak.

    You know what fatigue I AM experiencing? New network fatigue. Too many people scrambling too many places, overly eager to participate, and therefore participating in, at best, only a vaguely meaningful way.

    I don’t want to have to learn to mis-type yet another word in order to get in touch with someone. There are a half dozen excellent TCP/IP-driven means of keeping in touch with family, friends, employees. I don’t need more toys. I need utility. I need productivity. I don’t need shiny stuff. I need FEWER reasons to be in front of a computer or mobile device in general.