I am experiencing an acute onset of social network fatigue these days. No discernible single cause, no distinct bad experience that stands out as spoiling things for me. No, I am just tired of so many places to put things, and so many places to check for things put by others. I am tired of too many options for pretty much the same sorts of content, tired of gauging my arbitrary preference for one place over another with no more profound or definitive basis than the “feel” of the user interface or some such. I am tired of liking and sharing and commenting. I am, in a word, tired.
Now, before this turns into one long whinge, let’s put on the rhetorical brakes a bit. I love social media; I always have. I am a natural at it. I almost never have a thought I don’t feel like sharing. What I am going on about is nothing against social networks as they are, but rather a recognition that something in me has changed so that I am left wondering if I need a change.
There is no doubt that one contributing factor in this is my relatively recent addition of a proximate wifi device to my everyday carry. Not that I was short of opportunities before to flip open my laptop or toggle over to my ever-open browser window on the family iMac. But now my access to each and every one of my various streams of input and sharing are palpably omnipresent wherever the requisite signal reaches.
Sometimes I can keep my check-ins in check. But more and more often I find myself “looping” in a manner not far off from the sketch in the pilot episode of Portlandia, and that is not a good feeling. I am lost in a fog all too often, not fully present to my family, and unable to adequately concentrate on projects and tasks. So what should I do? Cut myself off from the digital community? I don’t want to. But I do need to find a delimitation to my engagement with said community, and I think the time may be a hand to focus my scope of engagement a bit. I am a completist by nature, so just as I strove to collect and read every Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators mystery, so too I have felt nearly compelled to keep a wriggling toe in every major social network. But I am reaching a point where I am ready to say:
“Yeah I tried Pinterest, but I just don’t need that in my life.”
“Goodreads is a good idea, but I just can’t fit it into my soul anymore.”
“Foursquare isn’t a social network; it’s a game, and one which yields me no real reward.”
I am not trying to paint a scene of winners and losers here, but rather, I am trying to define a reasonable amount of engagement with social networks that still leaves me time and energy to be engaged with, well, my real life. It’s an ongoing process, but the sooner I can pare down the number of buttons on my mobile touchscreen, the sooner I can define what streams of input and output are most enriching and meaningful to me, then the sooner I can deliberately make myself available to the people and experiences most important to me.