Steve Hodson has an excellent post about the rapid growth of social media and our tendancy to over-indulge in 24/7 connectivity. Is there a breaking point? Are we spreading ourselves too thin by trying to stay connected?
“For every new service that we are cajoled into joining because of social media peer pressure we just cheapen the whole idea of conversation or connecting. As we spread ourselves out thinner and thinner across all these services we will find ourselves becoming increasingly overloaded and when this happens something is going to break. We will find ourselves headed directly towards a social media backlash and if that happens it isn’t going to be pretty.”
Something is Going to Break
Steve asks, “Is something going to break?” To answer this question, let’s look at the history of the web’s evolution. In the begining, the web put publishing into the hands of the individuals. The amount of information on the web exploded. There volume of available information was staggering. Trying to keep up was overwhelming and tiresome. How could anyone consume and process all the information online? Then the answer came to us. Search.
Search allowed us to say, “I don’t care about all of the information that’s available… I’ll just use search to find what I want, when I need it.” Suddenly we were relieved of the pressure to “keep up” with the information that was available. What a relief!
Let’s move forward a few years. Welcome to the “social web.” The social web is about people sharing their personal story through blogs, tweets, photos, etc. As we continue to publish our personal lives and connect with more people throughout the world, we again find ourselves overloaded with the sheer volume of information flow. We can’t keep up! (But, it is fun to try, isn’t it? Social media is undeniably fun… but what does your time cost?)
So, what’s the solution?
The solution is not, obviously, to find a better way to keep up. Trying to keep up with the flow of social media is a losing battle. I believe, just as search allowed us to give up the fight of keeping up with everything on the web and allowed us to just focus only on what we need, likewise we can expect to see breakthroughs in the filtering of social data flow.
We need solutions that allow us to forget about trying to “keep up.” It wil relieve us of the stress – just like search did years ago. We’ve invented plenty of ways to enable the creation of social media. Now, let’s switch the focus to helping people filter and condense the social data to make it lean, valuable, and on demand.