How much time have you spent on MySpace today? How about Facebook, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Squidoo, MyBlogLog, Bumpzee, or LiveJournal? That’s a lot of social networks to be on, but how many of you have accounts with all of them? I’m sure I’ve missed a few and I’m also certain that some of you may argue that one or more aren’t really social networks. The point is that they were all designed to connect people together into some sort of communities and that they all tend to take up a lot of your valuable time.
Matt Keegan and others have written recently about discontinuing use of MyBlogLog since Yahoo has taken over and made it more intrusive in terms of privacy. I can completely understand this. It’s alarming how much information all these companies have on us and they want to have more. Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft would love to have your complete life history, including medical, financial, and any other private details they could gather. This practice may not stem from any evil intent, but it’s scary as hell, nonetheless.
The social networks are probably not the biggest threat to your own privacy, but they do present a threat against an even more prescious asset: your time. I began this post by asking how much time you spent on various social networks today. I suspect there will be a variety of answers ranging from none to a considerable amount of time. This cost of participating in social networks is what concerns me.
After being a newbie blogger for a while, I realized that I needed to do more marketing in order to get my name out there. I needed to expose my blog and my writing to more people so that I could get more traffic and links to my blog. Social networks presented a perfect way to do that. Participating in these kinds of communities offered a built-in way of advertising. All I had to do was put in some effort… and time.
It turns out that keeping up with the social networking began to take up more and more time that could have been spent in creating more and better content. I think the Pareto Principle comes into play with this, too. In fact, it’s probably significantly less than 20% of the time spent social networking that provides 80% of the results.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Being a part of these social networks has helped increase the popularity of FreshBlogger. It’s also helped me to get to know and become friends with a lot of interesting people. At some point, though, the time spent on these networks has to be seriously questioned.
The Law of Diminishing Returns does seem to come into play here, too. If fifteen or twenty minutes a day social networking accomplishes your networking goals, two more hours of time spent doesn’t necessarily advance those goals much further. Actually, I think it helps to contribute to the phenomenon of social networking overload.
After spending a lot of time on MyBlogLog, I eventually stopped going there every day. It was simply taking me too much time and energy to read the comments and check out the blogs of new visitors. I’m sure I’m missing out on some cool stuff, but I simply don’t have enough time to keep up with it anymore.
I can’t be the only one to be experiencing this. Most bloggers also have day jobs, families, and many other priorities in their lives that demand a portion of their time and energy. Social networking takes a bite out of those important resources and the returns tend to be less and less over time. If you’ve been experiencing social networking overload, leave a comment and let us know about it. If you disagree vehemently, we’d like to hear from you, too.