I’ve been on a 2 week summer vacation and hardly spend any time on “Social Media” services. On return I found myself not getting back into old habits as easily. I haven’t spend a lot of time on Twitter or Friendfeed. I hardly ever use Facebook, I can’t even recall when I went there last.
Instead I found myself spending much more time communicating with people I actually know in real life. Not just family and friends, but also people I know professionally. I use my Family Social Network, e-mail (yeah!), physical meetings and my mobile. I am reading a lot more than before. Getting into people’s blogs (I still love Google Reader), reading longer posts and books.
I’ve always considered myself a pretty average user when it comes to social media. I follow about 900 people on Twitter, and am followed by slightly more. I’ve always made sure I tweeted more than the nr of followers I have (so far about 2500 tweets) . I don’t know how many people I follow on Friendfeed or the amount that follow me. I have hundreds of Facebook friend requests, even a lot from “old” friends, but I don’t touch the service. I am on Flickr, but stopped using it. BrightKite, Google Lattitude, great services, but no big deal to me. Instead of looking for alerts daily I’ve noticed that I forget to start or look at services I used to watch daily.
I’ve asked myself what causes this change in behavior. It’s actually quite simple. Public interaction isn’t providing me as much value (joy) as when I started. It’s something I knew would happen. Everything becomes social, but as we now have the ability to interact anywhere with anyone, I find myself scaling down the conversation to a core set of family members, friends, and professionals I interact with. Enough is enough already. The magic is gone.
I don’t see myself as a front runner and I do think that I’m that much different from others. I believe that public social interaction is great, but nevertheless not sustainable. WTF? The whole world is participating, and I’m questioning it’s sustainability? I’m not talking about services here, nor am I talking about professional usage. I’m talking about the individuals using these services. It’s very seductive to dive into and join this global conversation. It’s exciting, it’s thrilling, there are new things and new people to be discovered every day. But let’s face it. How many ‘friends’ do you really, really (I mean really!) interact with? Invest time and energy in?
We might follow or be followed by ten thousands of people, but our human nature tries to scale down this herd (community) into workable proportions. We may do this by following celebrities or in our case tech pop stars. We may use sophisticated services or preferences to tailor the experience to our needs. Or simply ignore most of the stuff passing by and only get into conversations with the same 10, 20 or 100 people. Why do you think the web latest and biggest invention is the status update? The status update addresses our human inability to process a lot of complex real-time data. Instead we flatten it out into 140 characters that we can barely process. I’m suspecting that there are billions of status updates by now, and most of them are ignored. It’s a self-perpetuity engine of waste. If I were an environmentalist, I would attempt to stop part of this ridiculous pumping around of useless information, and save the planet 😉 Of course all of this is nothing new. We already shared important stuff with people. The only thing that has changed is the technology and the scale. Visits, letters, phone calls, they have been replaced by E-mail, Social Networks, SMS and now status updates.
While technology has provided us scale, our human nature tries to scale back down using every opportunity and technology we have. We can’t cope with that much interaction, nor does it provide us enough value. I’ll still be on the networks that I like and care about. I’ll interact with the people that interact with me. But don’t expect me to be Social Media-izing 24×7. It’s not because of you or the great things that you have to offer. It’s my human limitations, and the fact that public interaction is less important. I’ll do what I always liked best. I’ll dive into the river every one in a while, have a great time, only to get out again and do something more useful.