Social Media and Information Overload Backlash

I have recently started friending fellow bloggers on Facebook. I sort of felt forced into it, really, since I prefer for Facebook to be real-life friends and family. But, since there tends to be some overlap (some bloggers have truly become “real-life” friends), it became more and more difficult to separate. I did create a list for my blogger colleagues so I can still try to maintain some work-life boundaries. Anyway, I have noticed something that kind of bugs me in the world of social media. I’m getting tweets in Facebook, and Facebook via tweets. I’m getting FourSquare updates and Whirrl stories and more information about certain individuals than I even want about my husband.

And, in a world of hyper-connected-ness, I’m going to say something bold. I simply don’t care. I don’t care what you had for dinner, or where you’re headed next. I don’t want to know everything you’re posting on every single platform, combined with every Twitter party you attend and every event that you travel to. It’s too much. There is no way you can track every little thing that everyone else is doing and still live your own life.

So that brings me to the other thing that bugs me. No one is listening. It used to be that if you posted a question or request on Twitter, you were inundated with replies. Now you’re lucky if one person acknowledges what you’ve said. I spend a lot less time on Twitter as a result. People are making exclusive lists to listen to just the few they care about most, while maintaining massive follower lists so they don’t hurt feelings by not following.  Huh?

The end result, and this is how I feel about the Internet in general, is that there is a lot of noise being generated and people are tuning out. I certainly am. I mean, I can’t find the interesting nuggets amidst all of the static. If you are sharing every little detail of your life, where you are and where you’re going and who you’re going with and what your thoughts are about the trip, I’m probably going to stop listening. It doesn’t matter how much I like you. You’re drowning out other people who are more appropriately self-filtering.

I’m predicting that we’re going to start seeing some backlash. We already are in platforms like Twitter. We’re going to start seeing more and more people pretend to listen (followers and friends are status points and resume builders in the social media world), while really tuning out. And if no one is listening, why should we continue to talk? In my wishful-thinking world (a lovely place, really), people will start reining in on their over-sharing and choose their tweets, updates, whrrls and posts with a little more restraint. In reality, I think that’s less likely to happen. Instead, we’re going to have to see some shifts to new platforms that still have a level of quality interaction. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons we saw a shift from macro-blogging to micro-blogging in the first place?

5 Responses to Social Media and Information Overload Backlash

  1. I never did get started on twitter. I find it hard after visiting blogs to find the time to get to my facebook page very often either. I think I’d rather just comment at the blogs I visit on the topics or posts that move me to write something.

  2. I’m feeling the same way. I have people request FB friendships that I don’t know and it drives me crazy. And twitter.. oh lordy.. don’t get me started.. it drives me crazy that people will follow anyone.. Why would a golf shop want to follow me.. Craziness.

    I personally am getting burned out by all of this stuff. I enjoy doing book reviews and things like that, but the whole social media is getting out of hand..

    Great article!

  3. So true! I was always very careful about who I’d follow – but then again, you can’t not follow someone sometimes. It truly is a tough balance. When you then think about the high #s who start then stop Twitter & you have little chance to know how they are, you wonder who you’re talking to. So I’ve learned to stay focused on my tweeps & let the others go as they must.

    As far as Facebook, I chose not to combine the two as much as possible. I’m planning on Facebook page to support the travel blogging in the near future. But again, there’s a balance that’s needed.

    When I teach people how to incorporate social media into marketing, its a tricky thing to get them to participate while warning – they alway want to jump on the warning.

    I think we’re already seeing things change. I think Twitter has really peaked and those who are finding it useful will stay with it and those not, will join the always growing & I think easer & more generally “user friendly’ Facebook.

    The new trend that’s driving me a little nuts it the “hey I’m here” thing. Foursquare and the like. I’ll try and share interesting info – like what I’m doing/where I’ve been, when I think it’ll help readers w/travel plans, and each business/person should make their own decision. But I know many who are now telling us every stop on their day. Some are very successful and get gobs of new followers, others find it annoying. I’m in the “tell me when you do something interesting” group.

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