(Interior scene: Group of people sitting in a room in a circle, attending a Social Networking Addicts Anonymous (SNAA) weekly meeting. Newly diagnosed person stands up and waves hand to the group: "Hi. My name is Jocelyn, and I’m a Social Networking Addict." Group response: "Hi Jocelyn.")
For many people, life is about keeping up with the Joneses. We all want to feel cool and like we’re in-the-know. For me, it’s about doing my job right - the first time (so I don’t have to do it again and can move on to other things I need to get done). So, if it means keeping up with the Joneses, ok. But what happens when you attempt to keep up with the Joneses and instead work 24/7 to get your (former) 8-12 hour job done? I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.
Keeping up with Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook/MySpace, Ning, Meetup, LinkedIn, and the various other (niche) social networks I’m participating in (or the thousands of others out there, for that matter) is very time consuming - and a bit boring; hence, the reasons why I’m so tired. Social Networking Fatigue Syndrome (SNFS) has gotten the best of me and many of my colleagues. The "fun" has worn off, the workload has increased (with the need to comment on everyone else’s comments all day - or weed through those that are superfluous, to post clients’ statuses, or to read professional articles posted by others), and we’re all wondering how to get our work accomplished, stay creative, and get a good night’s sleep.
I’m not here to bash any of these social networking services; this is not a love-hate relationship. It’s a need-don’t need relationship. In fact, I think social networking can be of great use in many ways (i.e., to learn of breaking news/emergencies, to obtain information on potential clients, and to support PR and marketing efforts). But there is also a need to know when to pull back and give yourself a break from all of this chatter.
Of course, the "when" is going to be different for each person, but when you realize it, you’re going to know that it’s time. For me, it happened a few weeks ago - and I haven’t been the same. Instead of having Twitterific loaded on my desktop all day, if I need to use Twitter, I simply post the message on the actual website. This way I don’t feel obligated or pressured to read/weed through or answer everyone’s tweets throughout the day, and I can post when I feel like it. Ok, so I may be missing out on a few great articles here and there, but what I’ve saved is my sanity - and a whole bunch of time I can re-devote back to client work or sleep.
But it’s not only Twitter. There’s a growing trend of using social networking sites (instead of email, text, IM, or, dare I say it - the phone?!) to contact people. And this means needing to be on these networks all the time to make sure you answer your mail. We’re living in a "me"-centric society (no sense of "offline" community; it’s all about the individual), where you no longer "reach out and touch someone," you simply "ping" them at any time of the day/night - and they answer! We’ve officially made ourselves available 24/7 to anyone in the world. (Is this a good or bad thing to be so perpetually available? Are we that lonely, bored, or incapable of being by ourselves or face-to-face with others? Ok, enough psycho-babble….)
All of these social networks are just tools in which we can create/further our identities, brand ourselves and keep up with others doing the same. So, what exactly are we missing if were not on 24/7? Yes, as a social networking addict (SNA), I admit I need social networking tools to help me do my job. But I also (now) admit that I don’t need them 24/7. I need them when I want them, not when society dictates that I need them.
Frankly, I think we need to begin a Social Networking Addicts Anonymous (SNAA) support group and let our friends know it’s ok to drop out of touch every now and then. The world isn’t going to come to an end if they miss updating their statuses for a day - or even a week (OMG! A whole week?!). This is a challenge for all of you SNA’s out there…try logging off for a day and see what happens - you might like it!
Ok, gotta go, just got emailed on Facebook and need to answer ASAP then go to bed...ugh.
Connect with me on these networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, MyRagan, Mediapost, Meetup, LadiesWhoLaunch, SavorTheSuccess, PROpenMic, PitchEngine, Ning, EntrepreneurConnect, Inc. BizNet, MerchantCircle, IndustryGrind, MyCityFaces – NYC, and FastPitch Network…and a few others.