Monday, July 28, 2008

I'll Link-Twitter-Book-Face-Ster You Later

OK, so I'm here in Amsterdam with journalism heavy weights Joel Dryfuss, Amy Wohl and Dan Tynan - and we got to talking about Social Media over dinner last night at cool eatery called "Envy".

Between bites of "frog butts" and a cucumber gazpacho - and I asked them their opinion on social networking - and I expected that their much more informed, much more well educated, much more in-the-know experience would produce a lively conversation.

Well... it did.

Now I've said here that the whole social media thing really is hard for me to keep up with - as I have a "real" day job. I can barely keep up with all the email, snail mail, IM, SMS, and voicemail stuff - and now I'm having to check my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn account to update them, check for other missed messages, etc.

What was very interesting - is that everyone agreed on this point.


Wow! I mean these are professional journalists that pump out a huge amount of content for some of the best-known publications in the world (not to mention the SaaS book that Amy is writing, the child rearing articles that Dan writes and the "multiple book projects" that Joel is working on) - and they (we) all have the same problem: social media is tough to find the time to deal with.

The problem lies in the fact that there is no "one" outlet for people to be "social" on. In the beginning, there was MySpace, and tweens found it to be a place where they could "hang out" and be themselves.

Then came Facebook. Then came Plaxo, Twitter, LinkedIn, and about 200 other possible places for you to post the most intimate details of your life for all the world to see. That's fine.

The crux of the problem lies with friends. The more you invite and add - the more invitations you get. It's a never-ending cycle of adding (or denying) people with at least 6 degrees of separation between you and a "real" friend. It's like going to a family reunion and meeting 200 total strangers who are related to you (somehow).

To make matters worse - all these "friends" now leave you messages. And Twits. And write on your "wall." And send you virtual crap (drinks, animals, etc).

The answer? Just say no. Unplug. Hug your kid. Make love not war.

There's no way (unless you're extremely motivated and have loads of time) that a popular or busy person (with a life and a job) can go through all the possible places in the world that people can get in contact with you. Dan Tynan turned me on to FriendFeed (I'm sure there are 10,000 more just like it) as a way to manage the deluge... but you still have to plough through all the entries, etc.

I remember the days when you had one email address, one home phone, and one business phone. The end. I never missed a call, people would write "letters" or they would make arrangements to come over to the house and have a BBQ to catch up.

Now they just nudge-twit-wink.

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