Social Networks Are Hard

Having a job where you have to work on a computer is terrible. I mean the internet is like RIGHT THERE.

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.

‘How neat, I got Freshly Pressed,’ I says. ‘I wonder how many comments I got,’ I says.

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?

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19 thoughts on “Social Networks Are Hard

  1. Hi there Kay, great post!

    I am working as a Social Media Marketing Specialist. Briefly it means that I get paid to tweet and post something in Facebook. I won’t be here of course if I am not a social media enthusiast.

    Being an enthusiast is a fancy way of saying, “I would not know what will happen to myself if I let myself be disconnected from Social Media even for a couple of hours”. But seriously, social media is a huge part of my everyday routine– not because I earn from it, but because it helps me stay connected.

    I agree with you when you said that social media nowadays can get really overwhelming. Sometimes, I feel the same way too: events happening at the same time, so many random friend requests, etc. And for the record (since I get paid by companies to man their accounts) I need to respond to hundreds of mentions, replies etc as their brand and not as myself. Oh dear Lord I hope you can imagine how loco I would get just to answer a freaking mention.

    At some point, I get to think that what I am doing is too much already. The thing here though is that I cannot just stop. The very idea that social media has been my avenue of expression makes it difficult for me to go offline for a couple of hours, much less days. The hype that’s making me feel that I am busy therefore I think I am doing something important therefore I have a purpose makes me not to stay away from social media.

    1. I sort of understand. I wrote an article yesterday partly about the benefits of using Twitter for businesses, and I follow a lot of people who do support via Twitter, so I can imagine how hectic it must be. One thing I hope to avoid is that feeling of addiction, or perhaps disconnection, when I’m away from the internet. Unless I know I’m waiting for something specific I don’t really /need/ to be on the internet (well, that and that’s where I do my job, too), but I don’t feel pulled to keep up with updates and whatnot. I hope that stays the same! But as it’s your actual job I can see how that would happen…

      1. I also had some feelings some times that Twitter and Facebook drains my idea. I write political commentaries on an online newspaper, and sometimes, I feel blocked since I have wasted my thoughts on Twitter and Facebook already.

  2. Great post. I find that I get very distracted by social media or I write comments like this when I really need to be writing another chapter in my book but I can’t stop myself from reading what others have to say! Whew! 🙂

    1. It is rather fascinating, isn’t it? People always seem to be up to something neat, and it provides an easy escape, but… it has its downsides. Lack of productivity for one. Now, as someone who has been indirectly responsible for your lack of focus… go write! =D

  3. Kay, I think that’s one of the reasons I’m afraid to start using Facebook socially, or even start tweeting. WP keeps me busy enough – especially since I want to start writing again. If I allow more social outlets to usurp my time, I would never get anything done.

    I’m pretty laid back, and things don’t bother me too much, but I have to admit, I’ve been a little frustrated with some of the interaction. For instance, more than one person has come to my blog several times, and I eventually followed. I interact with them on their blog, but once I became *their* commenter/follower, they stopped coming to mine. if you’re going to come to my blog and entice me to yours, at least continue to show some interest in what I’m doing – at least occasionally.

    It’s all still a bit new as i find my way.

    1. Yeah, that sort of thing can kind of suck. I was actually going to write about that tomorrow or the day after. Interaction seems to be rather selfish in a lot of cases, but I wonder how widespread it really is, and I don’t want to fall prey to doing that sort of thing myself.

  4. Enjoyed reading your posts. For me, it’s the interaction part that I kind of crave. Most days, it feels as if I’m talking to myself, and I hate that. I like sharing information, but I tend to hold it back when it feels like there is no one to share it with. That seems to be my experience, which is the opposite of yours. My social network is pretty much non-existent lol. (not that the offline network is strong either) Still trying to figure it all out though….

    1. I think it was much easier to figure out when we only had the offline stuff to worry about. Still not perfect, but eh. The thing about social networks is that we act as the broadcaster. It’s not like talking to a group of friends, they tend to be much more vast than that. I think people become desensitized to that, which is why many people might not ever see replies or much interaction, which kind of sucks.

      1. Definitely much easier I’ll say. Every now and then, I try and unplug – deactivate my accounts for a while, or take some hiatus or something, which if I’m honest with myself, is because of the not much interaction I encounter, which sucks (not kind of lol)

  5. Those illustrations accurately portray my life because of social networks.
    Because of Facebook and junk, I very rarely get emails from friends anymore. That clears up a lot of responsibility of having to answer them (everything else is a forward or newsletter I never open). On Twitter, it helps to not follow too many people. 100+ just seems like too much for the feed. As for BEING followed, that’s a different horse I wanted to be on until I read this post. =P
    Crap, I just remembered I have to check my email. Don’t you hate how the internet gives you more things to do?

    1. Yeah, I actually go through time to time and unsubscribe from all the stuff I absolutely don’t need. It’s nice to get email, but I like to retain some personable feel. When it’s all just notifications… it isn’t so much. It’s turned into a more verbose Twitter, just broadcasting messages.

      I agree about Twitter, though. I trim the people I follow from time to time just so I can keep my feed readable without it zooming past. I tend to do the same on all sites. I’m very picky about who I follow just because I don’t want to be consumed and overwhelmed by such a huge amount of information. I know people are surrounded by so much on a daily basis, and I don’t know if people can really handle that.

  6. I just try to limit the amount of social networking I have/do. I have my blog and facebook and email acount, but that’s about it. And I really only use them for their intended purposes. That is I blog/read, send/receive emails, and I get on facebook to interact with people, not play facebook games. I think it’s just moderation…and self-control, but that’s haaaaard…

  7. I deleted my facebook and sodahead I axed a long time ago. I now only have a blog, two emails, mywana, twitter, and just started a hubpages.
    I know how you feel. It can get pretty hectic. And then I feel guilty if I don’t answer EVERYONE right away. But I try to ignore the guilt. I take days off. Or I’d probably go bonkers.

  8. Troubleshooted – troubleshot? Ah, I love grammar.

    Interesting thoughts – thanks for sharing 🙂 – have you read Mark McGuinness’ article on how Windows Vista HELPS him work (I know…) – the gist is that on his Mac if he enters the Vista program he no longer has internet access, so he can focus on his work.

    Personally I didn’t have the internet at home til I was 17 (my peer group had it at 13) and then it was on a slow dial-up connection, and when our mum wanted to use the phone we had to log off for a while. I remember the anxiety in case friends were trying to get hold of us on msn meanwhile… it’s a not-missing-out syndrome, and instant chat is the form it has taken for our generation.

    1. I don’t think I have… might you happen to have a link to it? =0

      The days of dial-up were fun, especially when I was sneaking it. I think I grew up away from the internet for a while since my parents tried to keep me away, but after I had a taste, I was kind of hooked. They really need ‘browse responsibly’ commercials or something, bah. But if you don’t feel so attached to it, all the better!

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