Social Media Overload
Mark Glaser calls attention to one of the strange dilemmas of modern life: deciding whom to “friend” on various social media sites like Facebook and MySpace.
Is the person a friend, a real friend, or someone who wants to be a friend? Should I add them as a friend because it’s polite, or ignore them because I want to protect my personal information?
The one “network effect” that people don’t mention too often is the way that you get more and more friend requests with each social media site you join. Whether it’s MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Pownce, Twitter or any of the other various social media sites sprouting up like weeds, you are always faced with the dilemma on who to add to your “friend” list.
I’ve rarely given this question much thought, and now I’m paying for that with a lot of irrelevant Facebook email alerts as well as MySpace spam messages. So I put the question to MediaShift readers: How do you choose among friend requests?
The answers, not surprisingly, varied but most people seem to only “friend” people they actually know in some sense; many, only those they’ve met in person.
I’ve gone slightly beyond that to include people I “know” online, particularly other bloggers or people with whom I’ve worked and corresponded. Still, that gets to be a large number and I want more information on people I know well or whose blogs I read daily than I do with casual acquaintances and Facebook (the one of these I use most) doesn’t allow you to differentiate. When, several months ago, they started allowing outside applications to creep in and I started getting updates about friends engaging in vampire wars, announcing their movie selections, and various other trivia, I relegated emails from Facebook to a separate folder that bypasses the inbox and have now just occasionally check in.
I’m also on LinkedIn, a business network, that serves no discernible purpose. I’ve had an account for years and revived interest in keeping up with it a few months back after getting a flurry of invitations from people I knew. But I’ve got no idea what it’s supposed to do for me beyond “everybody” being on it.
Glaser’s colleague, Jennifer Woodard Maderazo, is simultaneously excited and worried about the Friendfeed phenomenon, which “takes feeds of your activity on 35 different social networks and puts them all in one place.” While convenient and synergistic, it also magnifies the glut of unwanted information and makes more clear how much of her private information she’s putting out there for people with whom she’s only vaguely associated to see.
One presumes that people will make sense of the social media world over time. Either people will be more discriminating in who they “friend” or put less information on these sites or the technology will evolve to allow one to give more weight to “best friends” and less to casual acquaintances.
Image: Jon Ray