Is Being Too Social Ruining Social Media?

I was reading an article on MSNBC recently about Groupon and the tag line to the piece was the following:

“When everything’s social, nothing is.”

Which gave me pause to think.  What happens when you have so many options to do something or buy something or say something or share something in social? Is there a tipping point looming here where eventually everyone tires of being so social?

I actually think so.

It’s not going to happen yet, but as I was made aware in a comment on a post I wrote about social media bubbles-“there is a bubble, it’s just different”. So with that assumptive comment in hand, which in hindsight I now agree with. I think it is safe to say that eventually we as a social world will tire of being so social with each other. There’s just too many choices and it’s not decreasing anytime soon.

There will come a time where we just won’t want to share, chat, upload, download, friend, follow, or like from a social standpoint, a mobile standpoint, and a mobile social standpoint. It’s inevitable.  If we produce too much of something (i.e. social networks) then demand goes down right? We’re going to burn ourselves out. Let’s look at this another way.

Being social on the web is not a utility, but a lot of us use the social web from a utilitarian standpoint.  They are two distinct things. But when they start to bleed into each other, that requires more time, and for most of us, time is still a commodity.

When social first came on the scene, the amount of networks were few and far between. Eventually more and more copycat type of networks emerged as the boom spread far and wide. The Big boys i.e. the Facebooks, the Youtubes, The Twitters and even the Myspace’s of the world enjoyed the rush. But as we head toward 800 million users on Facebook and we see stuff like this graph from Ken Burbary, we realize that we truly are in an age of “digital enamorment”.

Eventually there will be a correction where we pare down our networks and we start to refine who our connections are with, and what they stand for. Right now we’re too enamored with social to see that. As things progress we’ll soon realize that there is indeed a bit of truth to Dunbar’s number about limits to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships with. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. The number sits at 150 and ironically Dunbar did not figure online social networks into the mix.

Your goal? Develop and refine the networks you’re in and remember Facebook isn’t your network, it’s your platform. Who you are connected to within Facebook is your network.

1 thought on “Is Being Too Social Ruining Social Media?

  1. Now, Marc, didn’t you write a post recently about how there is less conversation on Twitter these days? You can’t both be “too social” and “less social.” 🙂

    Anyway, a few thoughts–

    1. Define Use. Taking the Facebook use graph as an example, it is really saying that 96% of people are actively using Facebook to be social, or just that most of the respondents have a profile.

    2. I don’t think we’re going to become less social. After all, we’re social creatures, and social media didn’t invent social behavior — it just allowed it to spread more widely. I suspect we’re just going to (finally) see companies and individuals be more discriminating in which tools they use and how they use them.

    3. While I think there’s probably some validity in the Dunbar theory, I think that’s always more about deeper connections rather than casual ones. I have very deliberately built up my Twitter network very slowly so that I can actually recognize (and say something intelligent to–and about) most of the people in my network. Does it take work? Yes. But so does being the owner of the corner store who has a town full of customers.

Comments are closed.