Late last summer Chris invited me to get on the luddite bandwaggon and drop Twitter and Facebook. Chris is a blogger and makes videos, so “luddite” is somewhat relative. But here am I, having a massive change of heart after promoting the use of online social networks to my local community of teachers.
Some time ago Karenne Sylvester created a thought-provoking survey on how much time her readers were spending online. Thinking through my own habits I was frankly shamed by how much time I was investing in reading other people’s blogs and comments. I really wanted to do the right thing by this new world of professional networking, but it left me with far too little time for the world around me. So I’ve decided to reduce my time online drastically in 2010, and see my friends more, read more, and get back to making music. That means a lot less time for engagement. I have alotted exactly one hour a day to online networking.
So, at the risk of alienating the lovely colleagues I have met or reconnected with online through social networks, I confess: Social networking is beginning to annoy me. Like anything you don’t have time for, it’s there, whining, tugging at my sleeves. I find myself reconfiguring my email settings to make smart mailboxes that collect all notifications from my various e-lists and drop them in a deep black hole, deleting them from my in-box range of vision. The mailboxes could let me catch up later, but I find that in the past month I haven’t, because it’s simply too time-consuming to be truly convenient. Should I skim through those emails one day, the discussions would be long over. And who wants yesterday’s papers? And these days, last week feels like last year.
Online smalltalk, if you are not engaging with your contacts, is just other people giving each other strokes, noisily. And not engaging means using the networks mainly for self-promotion, to post new articles, which is frowned upon. As I disengage on Twitter, people are starting to unfollow me. Unfriending on Facebook is sure to follow.
Social networking has given this blog a far more real and 3D community. Without my Twitter and Blog friends I’d be talking to myself here. So I’m fully aware that this networking fatigue is very ungrateful, and that I should be ashamed of myself. But I’ve got my priorities. Am I destroying something of great value by disengaging? Or am I rightsizing?