The Paradox and the Detox

So I found this via @ScepticGeek and I think it is an interesting article. The author does make a point at the start that presenting this theory elegantly is a problem. I agree. This is a problem statement that needs to be up there straight. I am a near-victim of this situation. What’s going wrong with social media services?

Put simply, I think that each new social media service that we start using makes it harder to keep up with things in general. At first, the cornucopia of Web offerings seems really great and we start using them as soon as we hear about them. We’re exposed to lots of different people, new knowledge, and generally enjoy ourselves. Each new website seems like a shiny new toy. Sometimes we get caught up in the thrill in making new connections and our friend lists grow.

But it doesn’t seem to be like it used to be. People don’t seem to connect with each other as much or follow each other’s work.

I keep trying to relate Barry Schwartz’s book The Paradox of Choice to this phenomenon. It’s not a perfect fit, but I think there are some things to consider about this.The paradox of choice is that something that should make us feel happy and fulfilled (having great flexibility of choices in our lives) often leads to stress and anxiety. [Via A simple theory on why social media is losing its mojo | Broadcasting Brain – different thoughts about thinking differently]

I’d recommend reading the entire article for a full perspective.

On a personal note, I have been at loss to make sense of the social media services that I have signed up to. A few remain that make some sense. And here are a few thoughts on why I think so:

  • Most of the new services you may join would come recommended from a friend you already know on an existing service. A simple logic — social media services needs communities — they depend of folks to invite their friends. After a while, you join more services — and find the same people all over. What different are you going to talk about.
  • There is too much of fear-hype over privacy and security. For example, when I see a ‘new” service asking me to connect to Twitter or Facebook without using OAuth or something similar, I generally leave, without signing up. I love OAuth because it helps me keep my password counts to a minimum.
  • (As has been mentioned in the quoted article), there is sameness of content all over the place. A friend uses Tweetdeck and updates Twitter as well as Facebook. Another, shares Google Reader items, which are also posted as Tweets.  Yesterday I read Rohit Bhargava’s article that said, “in just a few years we will reach a point where all the information on the Internet will double every 72 hours.” I think you will understand when I say I am not surprised.
  • I do not know how many people are asking this question, and if this is a question at all, but — to what end. There are these cartoons all over that talk of how social media has made us anti-social in quite a few respects — in meatspace (I like that term).
  • The other thing that has been irking me for a while is the amount of money and intellectual resources that are being “wasted” in developing even more similar services that are blurring differences. While ersonally don’t believe in spending trying to cool the earth, there are enough places where money could be put to good use — for profit.

There is more, much more. And while this is not a “Why Quit the-social-media-service-ending-with-r” kind of a post, it is a statement of stuff that has been going on in my head for a while. Phew!

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The Paradox and the Detox