Is it just us, or is the blogosphere starting to sound curmudgeonly with reports of widespread social media fatigue? Maybe social media really isn’t the revolution it’s been made out to be. Or maybe the critics are talking about something else entirely.
Because social media users are starting to notice that the constant updating, awkward social interactions, and the ever-present glare of multiple screens are having a negative impact on their lives.
The trend doesn’t appear to affect just the late adopters: even the younger generation of so-called tech natives is starting to feel the pain. Wrote YPulse editor in chief Melanie Shreffler:
Millennials are noticing their own interactions are often filtered through a screen, even when they’re in the same room with their friends. The panelists at the Millennial Mega Mashup described a love/hate relationship with technology for that very reason. They even call their friends out when they see them staring at a screen instead of paying attention to the people they’re with, but the behavior persists.
And it’s not just conversations that are being lost. In a recent poll, 24 percent of people surveyed reported that they had missed an important life event while staring at a screen to try and document what was happening for their followers instead of taking it in with their own eyes. As our own Neil Vidyarthi points out, “the more that you’re on Twitter talking about what you’re doing, then the less that you’re actually doing it.”
These findings suggest that people of all ages are looking for a healthier balance between real-world and virtual activities in their daily lives.
Moving your personal life onto an increasingly public forum can be awkward. In 2010, a survey of 600 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 revealed that although Facebook was still the most popular site among people in this age group, one in five were not using the site as much as they used to. “Of the group that are saying goodbye to Facebook,” wrote former Mashable writer Jennifer Van Grove, “45% have lost interest, 16% are leaving because their parents are there, 14% say there are ‘too many adults/older people’ and 13% are concerned about the privacy of their personal information.”
Even today, some feel that social media platforms have yet to recreate or improve upon existing social behaviors. Richard MacManus at ReadWriteWeb noted that Pinterest, for example, has not “reimagined scrapbooking,” as many analysts have claimed. The time-honored tradition of filling cloth-bound books with treasured family photos is alive and well, according to many hobbyists. As for future innovators, “the lucrative scrapbook market is still ripe for reinvention in the mobile and social era,” he added.
Before we throw our smartphones into the sea and declare the return of print, vinyl, and the art of talking through tin cans tied together with string, we have to ask ourselves: which kinds of social tools and other technology do we use in our daily lives that actually make them better? Which things still have room for improvement? What can we, the users, do to make social networking less exhausting and more fun? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Image by Igor Normann via Shutterstock.