Thursday, January 10, 2013

The end of our affair with social media?

As scientists have proven, passionate relationships have a shelf life -- of approximately two years. After that time, you either transition from passionate love to companionate love or the relationship dies. Which is why I believe social media is ultimately doomed.

Sure, there are millions of people who sign up each week for social media accounts -- on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest -- or create a blog. And for the first few weeks, or months, or even a year or so, they are visiting and posting stuff like crazy. But at some point, typically around the two year mark (give or take a few months), the romance wanes, and they stop visiting and posting as often. Or shut down their account.

Take Facebook, for example. How many of you initially fell in love with Facebook when you discovered that it could help you find and reconnect with that old camp or high school or college friend you lost touch with, or that old boyfriend, or colleague? Come on, confess: you felt a little thrill with each new friend request, didn't you?

And wasn't it great to have a place to see photos of your friends, find funny pictures and sayings, and see what your friends were reading? Even better, you finally had an audience, of hundreds! maybe thousands! to potentially share your thoughts and feelings, photos and articles with -- and receive instant feedback and positive reinforcement from! You "like" me! You really "like" me!

Admit it, you couldn't wait to log into Facebook -- or you just kept Facebook open all the time -- those first few giddy weeks or months.

And then how long did it take before you got weary, or bored, or annoyed with Facebook and then stop using it or deactivate your account?

Fact: About 18 months ago, I was curious to know how many of my Facebook friends actually used Facebook, that is, posted something at least once a week AND commented on other people's posts. The answer: only around 20 percent. And the percentage continues to decrease. Granted, I may be an exception, but I don't think so.

Same goes for blogging -- and commenting on blogs. What an amazing thing, a blog, where you can write down and share your thoughts and photographs with the world and (hopefully) get (positive) feedback from total strangers! For free!

And how cool is it that you can comment on blogs and articles and get feedback about your comments, indeed, hold deep intellectual (or not) conversations with other commenters, people you don't even know?! It's like you are part of this cool virtual community where everybody knows your name (not your real name, of course), a virtual Cheers!

And how long did that infatuation last? Yup, I'm guessing around two years (if that long) -- when you got bored, or weary, or annoyed, and couldn't be bothered to blog or to even comment. (Case in point, check out the number of comments on this blog from 2008 and 2009, the first two years, or some other blogs, compared to 2011 and 2012. Way fewer comments. Similarly, I periodically purge my blog roll, to eliminate those bloggers who stopped blogging months or years ago.)

As for Twitter, having to pack your thoughts into 140 characters or less may seem like a fun challenge at first, but it quickly becomes tedious. And how many people can you realistically follow, or want to?

And I've been hearing and reading a whole lot less hype about Pinterest these days.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about social media. As a writer, I love having a place to write short-form prose and to share my thoughts about pop culture, politics, sports, and, yes, cats. And I love the idea behind Facebook, that is a forum when you can connect or re-connect with old friends and colleagues, share pictures and articles. But I also find Facebook depressing and isolating -- and don't miss it at all when I am traveling or too busy to check in.

What are your thoughts on social media? Leave a comment in the comments section.

Then again, if I am right about social media, you probably didn't read this far -- or can't be bothered to leave a comment.


Michael said...

I think you bring up a number of good points about the infatuation people have had with social media. I actually see more of my Facebook friends, for instance, posting more often now than in past years.

I think people are a bit overwhelmed with the number of social communities they can join...and then have to maintain, or not. For me, I'm more active on FB and Twitter than I am on Google+ or Pinterest. I'm also different than some other readers of your that I've used social media tools to enhance brands for which I have worked.

Social has been a big part of the job, so I've naturally tried out a bunch of platforms.

Family members have opened FB accounts, shut them down, opened them again. Everyone is trying to figure out how much they want to commit to social media.

I think we all need to spend more time having actual conversations with friends, family and customers. Social media can enable this, but interactions shouldn't solely be limited to digital means. have my $.02.

Anonymous said...

I DID read all of it and agree. (Non FB person here.) Consider also that we have access to so much information that it has become overloaded. Aggregate, curated, and niche information spots/sites that tailor to our own interests is the future. Thus the trend for info gathering on where/what we view to better market those type of niche sites/ads to us.

Dave S. said...

For me the primary factor in use/non-use of social media is TIME, particularly for blogging. It takes time to post something since I'd like it to be at least minimally well-written and include the appropriate '80s music video.

Facebook is similar except that it's easy to post a quick status and, since I specialize in guerilla smartassery, even easier to throw a comment grenade then get out. Do I have more friends than I probably really care to have? I suppose. But for the core, it's nice to maintain some minimal back-and-forth with people in far-flung places who otherwise would not get to experience my guerilla smartassery. (You are all welcome!) However, to post photos etc. takes TIME especially since I want to make sure to provide witty captions etc. so people like me Like Me LIKE ME.

I got a Twitter account to know when my favorite food truck would be in my work neighborhood, so my tweets are few and far between.

I don't even know what Pinterest does but its logo too closely resembles that of the Phillies so it's a non-starter.

larissa said...

Digital clutter
Manageability goes
By way of the mess