Social media is a wondrous thing, beautiful in its elegance, terrifying in it power. Addictive and consuming, it stands to overload us all.
I use social media. A lot. I have two twitter accounts (one personal, one for our company), three Facebook pages (one personal, one for my gaming blog and one for our company), a brand spanking new Google+ account, two blogs (including this one) and, depending on whether or not you count it as social media, spent years of my life locked away in a dark room, pouring countless hours into online video games. Yes, I’m all over the Internet like a slightly disturbing and alarming rash.
I also receive social media updates constantly and continually, regardless of my location and proximity to civilisation (much the annoyance of my wife when I’m on holiday, I might add). Emails, Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, Google+ streams, hundreds of RSS feeds, all of these things are pumped into my brain via desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices daily, updated and refreshed, ready to be consumed by my hungry, addled mind anew each sunrise. The consumption and consummation of information never ends. It is infinite.
The consumption and consummation of information never ends. It is infinite.
It’s tough for me to say it but, as much as I love social media and the benefits, both corporate and personal, that it brings, I’m slowly finding myself becoming overwhelmed by its endless and growing nature. Every year we see more and more social networks added, every year we see more and more ways to share, like, endorse and spread information amongst our peers and it’s simply getting harder and harder to keep track of it all. The fact is that we are on the verge of overload, on the verge of our brains imploding under the sheer volume and pressure of it all.
Well, maybe that’s a rather melodramatic way of describing it. Perhaps a more realistic vision of the near future is that we simply start training ourselves to ignore more information and pay less attention to the things we see, ultimately devaluing it all. The unfortunate situation is that the human brain has limits and the more we disseminate information, the less we are able to fully digest it and spend the time it takes to properly read and understand it all. Countless volumes of information will pass before our eyes only to be quickly fluttered out of our minds as we teach our short term memories to rapidly analyse, skim, acknowledge and then forget completely.
the human brain has limits and the more we disseminate information, the less we are able to fully digest it
Ultimately it is not the act of engaging with information and media that we enjoy but rather the mere act of sharing it with others. We are compelled, deep down, by the need to inform our peers, to impress and share, to click that tiny little teasing ‘like’ button. We are mindless animals that enjoy seeing numbers go up and there’s a reason why Google’s new +1 button is now more popular that the rapidly ageing Twitter’s share button.
So is there an answer to all of this? Probably not. Rather what we’re likely facing is a natural evolution of information explosion and a possible decline in the power of online dissemination, perhaps a good thing overall as it would force a return to the valuable of quality above all else. It seems though that there is no way to escape this inevitable overload.
Of course, we could always just quit. Stop using Twitter, stop updating Facebook, go cold cyber turkey on it all and I’d be lying to say that I’ve not seriously considered it, pondering what life would be like with out its addictive and compelling grip.
Anyway, time for me to tweet, like, digg, stumble, and +1 this post.