Our fear of not being there when it happens

Several posts drew my attention the past few days. Their scope entilily different, but the underlying social behavior seems to be the same.

First there was Robert Scoble writing about “Not productive enough? Turn off the Internet”. He has been able to process massive amounts of e-mail (over 5000) in a short time because he was disconnected from the Internet. That proved fro him to be an enormous distractor. Not being connected allowed him to be productive (Then again, who says processing 5000 mails is productive ;-)).

Josh Catone wrote an interesting article entitled “Why we need web apps on the desktop”. One of the reasons Josh feels there is a need for web apps to come to the desktop is that the browser is no place for multitasking. He shows an impressive list of applications he is running all at the same time and concludes that his browser (Firefox) would probably not be able to cope with a similar set of web applications. In his words:

There might be a day when the web truly is our operating system, and when browsers really will be designed to run multiple applications. But that day hasn’t arrived, and until it does, bringing web apps to the desktop is another important step in their evolution and the way forward in pushing the idea of hosting data in the cloud out to the mainstream.

Then there is Hugh Mccleod, who announced that he would stop using Twitter and that he has deleted his account. As expected a lot of bloggers reacted in defense of Twitter, with Tony Hung leading the pack, trying to show Hugh what he would be missing now that he has taken such a definite step.

What do all of these things have in common? In my opinion there is an underlying social behavior that we are all part of. You might think it is interaction, that is one of the main themes in my weblog. But I don’t think that explains it all. It is the fear of not being there when it happens.

Just think about that for a minute. Why do we need to be in 10 different places at once. Why does the web have to become a ubiquitous interactive environment that connects us to millions of friends across the globe. Why do we have aggregators that aggregate news and content from other aggregators, who in their turn aggregate etc. etc. Why is it so hard for us to turn of the computer at night and leave that never ending conversation. Which is sort of stupid, as this conversation is never ending. It’ll be there in the morning again.

We have a need to be part of something. We need to be there when it, whatever it is, happens. That is why we multitask. Why we are part of a gazillion social networks. Why we Twitter, Friendfeed, Pownce all day. What if the news breaks and we are not there? What if something hits the fan and we have missed it? It might be explained by the fear of not being there.

Robert Scoble didn’t turn of the distraction. Robert Scoble accepted that by letting go of the conversation, he wasn’t missing out. He was simply dealing with his fear of not being there. It happens to the best of us. Letting go sets us free. The conversation will never stop. So why not take a break from it every once in a while. the world will go on, and you will play an import part of in it. 😉


About vanelsas

See my about page, https://vanelsas.wordpress.com/about/ ;-)
This entry was posted in connected, Robert Scoble, social interaction, social network aggregator, Twitter and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Our fear of not being there when it happens

  1. Hilko says:

    This article reminds me of a discussion about Twitter on This Week in Tech. Leo Laporte made a great point when he explained his use of Twitter: at first, he joined and was overwhelmed by it. So he quit. Then he rejoined with a different mindset. Instead of feeling the need to follow everything, and having a fear of missing out, he now just looks at the ‘current’ conversation whenever he feels like it.

    Of course, it remains to be seen if one of capable of maintaining this state of mind. Especially information-junkies like us nerds have great difficulty with the concept of NOT storing or seeing information if we have the option to. Curse systems (like the internet, really) that log everything. It feeds our compulsive behavior.

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  3. Bartel Scheers says:

    Good bump Alex, and very true..
    However, social networking is not about bragging about your special life is it?

    I mean, who cares really about todays Twitters?

    But who did about the first Blog?

    Now, I for example read newspapers from New York to Jerusalem, Blogs from Baghdad to Kingston, and forums that update me realtime from the heart of Florida, better and faster than any main stream CNN.com could provide and I have the opportunity to discuss it with people who are actually on the spot. For me that’s what I want.

    Social networks are what they are..social…meaning you connect to where you belong to..much like your Hockey club.

    Problem is, we want to be a member of all of the networks, ergo clubs, at the same time. Can’t do that.

    But Twitter…just imagine what it really is capable of..messaging instant around the globe within a network?

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  6. pinastro says:

    Hmmm..true ..we all want to be part of something that looks great.

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  9. Now you did it. I had to add a new tag to del.icio.us today “SocialBehavior”

  10. @Paula, sorry about that 😉

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