Is Social Networking Becoming Less Social?

During my hellish CES experience, I noticed something interesting: the point in time when I was hoping for some encouragement from my F&F (friends and followers), I didn’t get any. Being sick sucks, but being violently ill in a hotel room all by yourself sucks even worse. I felt quite alone and could have used some encouraging words to help get me through the day. I posted a message on Twitter about how sick I was, and I thought it also went to Facebook but didn’t. I was a bit surprised then when only one person sent me any words of encouragement – and this person happened to be someone I know only via Twitter. I imagine I would have gotten more of a response if TweetDeck had posted my message to Facebook – it didn’t make it due to a password glitch – but it still amazes me that with 530 followers on Twitter only one felt like wishing me well. Is there so much noise in the social networking space that being social with others is no longer part of the equation?

  • Noise? There’s a lot of noise. I don’t even watch my twitter roll on the screen anymore – I pay attention to mentions of my name and every now and then look at some keyword searches.

    I actually can’t understand how some people can tweet, retweet, explain, add !!! and silly comments. Oh, but you know about silly comments – you used to read comments on your YouTube pages, right?

    Get well.

  • marlof

    I think you have a point in social networking not so much about being social, but about making an ego presence. I make a point of only responding to people with whom I have a mutual “following” relationship. 😉 Just kidding of course. But I did get so tired reading all the same messages over and over, that I killed my Facebook and (Dutch equivalent) Hyves account. Next, I took a pause using social networks, until I decided what to do with them. In the end I decided to only use Twitter to stay in touch with people I’ve met in person and would like to stay in touch with. I killed quite a few followers and following acounts, leaving only a few I actually know. I tend to value my real life a lot more than a web presence, and being social towards people I care about should be a lot easier.

    That said: I wish you well. And yes, you’re still on my follow list. 😉

  • Sorry about that, Jason. I should have said something. I did see your tweets. I purposely try to keep my Twitter following to what I can manage to read in Twitterific on my iPhone, so I didn’t have an excuse. You are one of the people who still uses Twitter for actual social purposes rather than for mindless marketing.

    I’ll have to be more conscious of being encouraging and supportive of my social media friends.

  • @freitasm: Used to? I still do read and reply to most of the YouTube comments that get posted to my videos. I know, I know, that’s kind of crazy…but I view my YouTube community as an extension of my Web communities, so I try to answer their questions whenever I can. It does chip away at my sanity though!

    @emuelle1: No worries. My intent with this post wasn’t to call anyone out; I was really just curious about why, if I’m more “connected” with other people than ever before, did I not hear from anyone I was connected to when I needed to the most? It just seemed a bit odd to me. 🙂

  • marlof

    I’ve never liked social networks like facebook that much, since in too many cases, it seemed to be about ego presence and not about being social. I’ve closed down my facebook account, and stopped following tweets for a while, uncertain if I’d keep my Twitter account. Your post helped me decide what to do: yesterday I decided to unfollow a few, and delete some “mutual followers” (you follow me, so I’ll follow you) I never got to know and I don’t want to share many details with. Right now I just follow people I know and like, making it easier to be social. Where of course communicating would be even easier when those would also follow my account…. ;-). Anyhow, I hope all is well with you and your family, and I’m sorry to have missed your horror stories earlier.

  • @marlof: I know exactly what you mean about “ego presence”. I look at the people that have 600+ friends and think “You can’t possibly be friends with that many people”. It’s been proven time and time again that as human beings, our circle of people that we’re really in touch with on some semi-regular basis maxes out at 150 people. In fact, I’ve read about tribes splitting off at the 150 person mark. There’s an amazing amount of data to show that 150 is the “magic number”.

    As for your Twitter, account, I checked again this morning and I am in fact following you – but I think because you have a protected feed, you need to approve my follow request. 😉

  • chrisgohlke

    I’ve pretty much given up on Twitter. Most of the people I know were cross posting or using a tool to automatically cross post to Facebook anyway, so actually watching twitter seems pretty worthless.

    I think some of the games like Mafia Wars actually causes people to bump their numbers, I’m guessing there is an advantage to having the people in your Mafia as your actual friends.

  • @chrisgohlke,
    I know exactly what you mean. It’s so easy to cross-post stuff now via automated means, that everyone seems to be doing it with little thought to how it impacts the people they’re communicating with. I tend to Tweet more than I update my Facebook status for instance, so I broke the link between the two and now update my Facebook status via a Twitter post perhaps once every couple of days. There’s too much “noise” on Facebook for me to follow, so I tend to miss most of what gets posted there. Twitter is nice in that there’s no reciprocal need for following beyond the social pressure; so I can follow 40 people and have 530+ followers…and the 40 people I’m following I can read everything they post. I can’t do that with Facebook, though I do hide some people from my feed.

  • I gave up on social networking, i.e. facebook. Clean since 2009, I think its for the best.