Social Networking Downside?


In the old days it was hard enough being dropped as friends by your schoolmates, but the Internet has allowed this to grow to a whole new level.  Andy of pondered this very subject here on Utterz.

Andy is not the only victim of being dropped.  It’s happening to your’s truly daily.  They key is that today folks aren’t dropping each other over petty grievances, but something else entirely. We are not adding to their lives.

That’s right. You’ve been added to someone’s online network and been quietly minding your own business. Occassionaly you say hello, or share a link, or return the favor and follow links they send along.  Perhaps they have a blog you’ve visited from time to time.  When the rubber meets the road though, you just aren’t adding enough to make having you as a contact worth their time.  Now how is that for a slap in the virtual face.

But what are they really saying? Is it just that your boring (to them)? Or is it something else?  There is trend among some of my contacts lately to start removing contacts that they don’t know in person or at least second hand.  Their reasoning is twofold. They worry about sharing too much with anonymous strangers, and they don’t know enough about those people to enjoy their content.  In fact, it’s rarely characterized as personal by those doing the dropping.

In my case, I’ve been dropped by a friend because of the high volume of my Internet output, especially on Twitter.  This is a person who follows me also on Flickr and on my various blogs.  Again, it’s not personal, or better stated, it wasn’t about me, it’s about that person’s ability to consume and enjoy what they consume.

The Internet now provides the ability to flood ourselves with content.  No longer just static web pages, but RSS feeds, email notifications, and tweets dinging us throughout our day.  What was once fun and useful quickly becomes worse than noise.

So what can we take away from this? A few key things I believe, but I’d be interested in what you have to share on this topic as well.

1) It’s not personal and you have plenty of contacts

2) Don’t broadcast noise – keep it short and keep it interesting

3) Get to know your contacts – become more than a stranger – you might turn those contacts into actual friends.

If you don’t have enough folks you’re following today, come join me on Twitter. I’m @tojosan.

5 Responses to “Social Networking Downside?”

  1. 1 thecodewhisperer February 13, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Great post.
    I’ve been dealing with this and just recently deleted 400+ off my social network for reasons stated above.
    I don’t take my own advice though and am a horrible soc friend…i bulletin too much…update too much…and then never actually talk directly to anyone.
    All of it does become ‘noise’ after awhile though.


  2. 2 Paisano February 14, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Good stuff, Tojo. I commented on Andy’s utter and echoed his and your sentiments.
    I’m still a noob when it comes to twitter and all this following malarkey so what do I know?

    I think we’re learning that our online world is similar to our offline world where some people like you and some don’t….or some find you interesting and some don’t.
    Ultimately we just hope more people like us or think we’re interesting than those that don’t. 🙂


  3. 3 Stephen February 19, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Thanks to the Internet, we now have the power to carry on hundreds of ever-more-superficial relationships. I guess sometimes people decide that enough’s enough and they want to focus on a select group that really matters to them. I’ve heard it said that you can only have about five close friends at a time, and I think that that’s probably about right.

  4. 4 tojosan February 19, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Sorry I’m so late with the follow up guys.

    Thanks codewhisperer for the feedback, and good for you on the cutting down the contacts. And yes my new friend, we all fade into noise at some point. Battle that by keeping direct communication lines open, and don’t just talk about the weather. Get involved.

    Paisano – always good when you stop by. Appreciate the back up on the post. Definitely you are right about the learning part. It’s more than just knowing the tools, it’s about knowing how to live digitally. As for being interesting…well, you are or you’re not, and it has less to do with you than the listeners.

    Stephen – thanks for stopping by. Yes, lots of superficial relationships are being built, but squeezed in here and there are real solid relationships too. It meant a lot to me to have folks contact me directly, and ask how my mother-in-law is doing. Some of those folks are stepping out of just the casual relationship and moving up that ladder.

    I’ll have to post the communication levels ladder soon, and we can all evaluate where we are in our relationships.

  1. 1 Contacts, Friends, and Meetups « The Broad Brush Trackback on February 23, 2008 at 10:51 am

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