I've been having a nagging feeling in the back of my mind for the last couple of months (if not years) about the whole social media thing.
At first, it was the coolest thing having something like myspace to allow me to keep in touch with my friends by sharing pictures, comments and images. It allowed everyone to have a presence on the internet without having to think about setting up (or paying for) ways to connect. As an added bonus, you could personalize the your profile page to reflect your style and interests1.
But I should have known that it wasn't going to last. The sight as a whole became filled with people who seemed to love showing off their animated gif collection and increasing the magic number next to "friends". One time, I got an invitation from my then roommate's sister who I had never met in life simply because she wanted to make it to 400 before her one of her friends.
Facebook was a breath of fresh air at some point, and it clean, simple and uncustomizable (at the time) interface really drew me in. This was before everyone had a problem with privacy and honestly, I had taken enough cs classes and seen enough movies and tv shows to know that I really shouldn't put anything on there that I wouldn't want Moe Lester to look at. Once again, I was happy to connect with all my friends and see how life was treating them, but it wasn't long before I experienced the same issues of attracting friends who weren't really friends and having a hug stream of information and distraction.
It was at this point, that I started to realize that despite all the time and effort spent maintaining a connection with all my online friends, I felt that I was still missing out on that human connection with those I cared about. The desire to have a long discussion was replace by the desire to have people respond. In order to promote a response or get feed back quicker, I found myself editing myself for lenght or watering down the content to make it less controversal.
But, I continued and started following my friends on twitter. Not only could I get their quips and links, but I was also able to discover other people I found interesting. I had basically let my facebook account just rot away and really enjoyed how twitter brought the information to me instead of me having to chase it.
Then google+ came out and all of the real life friends I was talking to started using that. The only updates that I see from people I've met in real life are from people doing checkin from 4square2 and I seriously doubt the people I follow can pick me out from their hordes of followers (not that I blame them, I don't have a lot of characteristics that stick out on the web).
Google, the behemeth that keeps getting bigger and bigger. I'm not arguing that the best of breed should go to the top, but I will say that I'm tired of generating content for other people just so that it can disappear without a trace. I'm tired of spending time working on a connection that really isn't there. I'm more than a node that connects two (or more) points. I find that my voice is just justification that the larger systems (myspace, facebook, google+) should be used in order to contact me.
How social are we when we trade our individual voice to be part of the chorus.
If you want to be "social" then go ahead, but if you want to find me. I'll be here.
I remember sites dedicated to selling themes and other dedicated to showing nothing but the worst offenders of "good taste". What I also remember is that people were constantly putting up huge pictures and videos that killed your bandwidth. Good times! ↩
Seriously, does the Library of Congress need record the fact that you were the mayor of burger town for a month straight? ↩