Social media fatigue; new concern, old premise

Maintaining a personal brand via social networks is a given in an era of constant connectivity; to be absent from these forums is to be absent from the conversation (and therefore irrelevant?). If you’re not keeping up on producing blog content, managing your RSS feed, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Linkedin, Seesmic, Friendfeed, et al., you’re not fully engaged.

Social media stress…only in San Francisco, home to what I’m guessing is at least 90% of the ‘250′.

Being overwhelmed by social networking options isn’t a new theme, but it’s also not one that’s going away.

This line in Candide resonates loudly:

“…even in those cities which appear to enjoy peace, and where the arts flourish, men are more devoured by envy, cares and anxiety than all the tribulations visited upon a citadel under siege. Private griefs are crueler even than public miseries.”

Candide

While the world of social media isn’t quite ‘private’, the stress you’re feeling about it is likely internalized and not a broadly shared public concern. What I take away from this is that if we’re not (appropriately) wringing our hands about public sins, our concerns are bound to be about something closer to home. Being involved in an industry with a self-appointed 250, these private envies, cares and anxieties are something I hear about frequently.

It’s interesting how cyclical all this social media experimenting has turned out to be — after being more than satisfied with my Facebook interaction for the past many months, and then recently joining Twitter in order to communicate with SXSW attendees, I’m back to blogging after an eight month hiatus. The above quote wouldn’t fit into the Twitter or Facebook status fields due to character limitations, never mind that they are an inappropriate venue for these comments anyways.

Last week during her demo at SF New Tech’s Online Video event at Dolby Theaters, Cathy Brooks of Seesmic, said that not all mediums will work for all people and that some people will just never be comfortable in front of a camera. There is no one-size-fits-all medium that will serve everyone’s needs, and so that’s why we continue to be served up with a proliferation of choices on how to connect.

Maybe the fatigue people are feeling with social networks is exactly what’s needed to bring about a round of winners in a crowded space. Will the result be the adoption of OpenID, a handful of super-portals, or will Internet audiences go the way of cable audiences, increasing segmented by a desire for niche networks?

I imagine this will take many more rounds of discovering, experimenting, and learning before any answers become apparent.

Updated: Cory Doctorow on “The Future of Ignoring Things”.

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