I’m no stranger to the internet. I’ve been using it for a while and I use it a lot. I remember back when I had MSN dial-up and had to try to mask my computer’s symphony orchestra of beeps, honks and whistles as it tried to connect late at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I’ve assembled networks, troubleshooted broken computers and designed a number of websites. Some people call me Captain Internet, a few of them less than affectionately. And yet somehow I just can’t seem to manage the social networks.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, WordPress, Tumblr and more! How do people manage this stuff? Always replies, always mentions, always tags, always comments. Some people go the route where they act as an information distributor, posting things but never really coming back to interact, and I don’t really like that. I figure if you’re going to be using a social network, you might as well, I dunno, be social. There’s also the fact that if you’re using social networks to promote yourself or what have you, it’d be nice to interact with people who follow you so you don’t come off as some faceless billboard. Who knows? You might make some friends along the way. I know I have.
But sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all these things. I remember back when I first got internet, the concept of email was so fascinating that I signed up to random email lists just so I could gasp at the new mail notification. What could it be? What’s inside? It’s a secret! I loved that moment where I couldn’t wait to load the single email I had gotten that week.
But now? OH MY GOD. It seems like everyone and their mother wants to email me. Six friends on Facebook have birthdays this week! Well good, since you can notify me, can you tell them happy birthday for me? Random Friend tagged you in a note, “I hate my life.” Well gosh, that sounds bad, but what does that say about our friendship? Another Random Friend has invited you to an event, College Crazy Drunk Annoying Loud Obnoxious Party With Lots of Alcohol. Do you even know me? How did you get on my list? Go away. Your mother has sent you a greeting card. I’M IN THE ROOM RIGHT NEXT TO YOU, MOM. COME ON.
Once I clean out my email, I check to see if I have any people I need to reply to, mostly on blogs and Google+. (Somehow I’ve gotten multiple thousands of followers on G+, and conversation threads can really explode.) Twitter mentions, Facebook tags, argh, help. When I first got into social networks I thought it would be fun to keep up with friends. But now I have to fight to keep it from becoming a second job.
I know, I know. The best way to avoid dealing with all the social network nonsense in the first place. “I don’t even have a Facebook,” some proudly proclaim. And I genuinely think that’s cool. But I thrive on the social aspect of things, especially since I’m no longer going to school or a place where I can see these people every day. There’s also the fact that having an internet presence is beneficial to getting my name out there, something that’s helpful if I ever want to sell more than one copy of my books. A lot of people are trying to accomplish things like promote their art, band, whatever, and social networks help. It’s not just a promotion tool, but in this age, it’s kind of a must (but if you’re using a network just to promote yourself and ignoring everyone, I think you’re doing it wrong).
I don’t get into anything with my own benefits in mind, though. If I ever hoped I’d get anyone reading my stuff on WP, it was mostly because, hey! People to talk to! Socializing! Friends! Stuff like that. But now that I look at what I’ve got, it’s a bit more than I bargained for. So much to take care of. I genuinely adore the people I’ve come to know and interact with, but social networks as a whole have become kind of overwhelming. Maybe it’ll become easier or I’ll get used to it as a hectic part of life to enjoy. Who knows?
Does anyone else get this feeling occasionally? How do you deal with this new thing that is internet social networking and stay sane?