FaceBlogLinkedWikiVibesGroups: Mommy, Make It Stop

New media salonista Amy Gahran recently wondered aloud in the “My Questions” module of her Facebook page whether she should create a Facebook group for readers of her popular blog, Contentious.

Jim Lackey–a Facebook friend of Amy’s, but not of mine [note to Jim: Since we’re both friends of  Jim Brady, he of washingtonpost.com fame, I  really ought to “friend” you soon]–responded to Amy’s query this way:

One potential drawback: If you start a new Facebook group and I join it, does that mean I’ll feel like I have one more group to check on? I’m already in too many groups that I never have time to visit!

To which I say: Testify, brother! You’ve asked the question of the moment.

I, like Jim–and Amy–and [I’m guessing here] you–are beginning to suffer social network circuit overload. It is the ’07 version of the ’06 RSS feed flameout, of the ’04 bookmarking debacle, and the ’02 e-mail catastrophe.

Take my social networks, please:

  • Joining blog reader communities was a kick at first–I regularly ventilated my opinions at about five. Then I launched by own blog, and needed to tend to that community.
  • Next came LinkedIn, with its invitations, closed-circuit e-mails, questions and “see who’s checked out your profile” gimcracks.
  • NetVibes isn’t so much of a community, but it sends me dozens of RSS feeds, some from blogs whose communities I still participate in.
  • Next up, Facebook, and all the good people I’ve gathered there, followed by the inevitable Facebook groups that spawn additional interactions with like-minded strangers.
  • Oh, and the wiki I’ve set up for about a dozen folks I’m collaborating with on a year-long project. Lots of discussion threads to follow there.
  • Oh, I forgot, the Technorati tags I track.

It’s getting to the point where I hardly have time for my full-time job, which of course is tending my e-mail inbox and writing my blog.

The point is that this is unsustainable, for me and all of us who have been sucked into the social network vortex. We have become servants of a networks of networks of our own making.

The only way to regain control at this point is to drop out, tune out and log out. Or, less apocalyptically, pick one or two communities that matter the most personally and professionally and [respectfully, regretfully as appropriate] step away from the rest.

So: Amy, please don’t set up that Facebook group. And Jim, please don’t be offended if I don’t friend you on Facebook. If you want to talk, just drop me an e-mail.

Explore posts in the same categories: Facebook, journalism, LinkedIn, social networks

4 Comments on “FaceBlogLinkedWikiVibesGroups: Mommy, Make It Stop”

  1. Ben Harder Says:

    I like: “social network circuit overload . . . is the ’07 version of the ’06 RSS feed flameout, the ’04 bookmarking debacle, and the ’02 e-mail catastrophe. Take my social networks, please”. You’ve concisely summarized the reason I remain so ‘shy’ on facebook and other social networking sites. I’m inundated as it is. In fact, I probably would have missed this post if it hadn’t been delivered straight to my inbox in the form of an email from Poynter. What I long for is a single *best* way to monitor and prioritize all of my “communities” (broadest possible definition thereof). So far, I haven’t found the technological solution.

  2. Craig Stoltz Says:

    Curiously enough, Amy Gahran, whose question on her Facebook page fueled this rumination of mine, posted an excellent solution to network overload the say before on her Contentious blog.

    Her solution, briefly: Run wire from all of your social networks directly into your RSS reader, skim repeatedly, click as necessary.

    I’m certainly going to give it a try.

    Oh, and by the way, I *did* friend Jim Lackey. He kindly accepted. And the whole mad process continues.

    Amy’s entry:

  3. djobe Says:

    I stumbled on to your blog post and found it amusing…our definition of “communitiy” is so broad as to encompass anyone that I may have had the most tangential relationship with—like I stumbled on to your blog post…

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