Friday, January 8, 2010
Social Media Fatigue Syndrome
"We know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out. Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep-rooted aversion to it. We want permanence, we expect permanence. We experience impermanence at the everyday level as frustration."--Pema Chodron, from Comfortable with Uncertainty
One of the ways that I know I'm getting older is that innovations like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter don't really interest me. There--I've said it. I feel a sense of relief like dropping my oversize pocketbook.
I used to want nothing to do with these sites. Although it may appear otherwise--hey, I blog about my life here, don't I--I'm actually a private person in many ways, and putting all your pictures and exploits up on Facebook is like giving away the store to anyone who cares to look--even if it's years later, when there are some things you'd like to forget (or at least keep new people from discovering!) Also, I've been the victim of identity theft, and so I'm careful about how much information I give out online. And ultimately I wonder, do people really care what apple farm I visited over the weekend or what I ate for supper tonight or what newspaper article I happen to be reading? It seems like not only an exercise in navel-gazing, but also a waste of precious time I could be using reading or emailing a friend a long, personalized message.
The young women who sit near me at work, however, are very fluent in social media; to them social media is like America Online was to me ten years ago. I've been trying to wrap my head around how to incorporate social media into both my work as a publicist and for my own blog. But for some reason, whenever I start to read a book like Groundswell or listen to a Cision webinar about Internet 2.0, I get this dizzy, spacey feeling, like someone who swallows too much chlorine. I take copious notes, I highlight and bookmark and tag, but the fact is--there is too much information out there, the web is continuosly growing and spreading (there's a reason they call it viral) and I can't keep up with it all!
I guess this is what the older folks meant whenever they get nostalgic for the more simple times, when movies cost 5 cents and you could watch as many as you wanted, or when people all had the same four TV channels so the next day everyone was talking about the same plot points from the same shows. There was a point when I decided I liked the old and familiar and feared the new--maybe it was around the time that I realized I was the demographic Starbucks was targeting with their Retro 80's CDs at the cashwrap. Those are certainly not for the kid on line with the earbuds and Tavo gloves. Or when I noticed that I was the only one in the dusty, half-filled CD aisles in Borders.
In order to live fully in the present, I need to not only accept changes but embrace them! I can't be wishing for the 90's when it's 2010. I need to keep up, especially at work. It's a daunting task when all I really want to do is go home and read a book (print, not digital.)
This is kind of a paradox of course because I've worked for an eBook company and I've been an Internet Marketing Manager who had to learn basic HTML and figure out web banner sizing. It just seems different now--the changes have accelerated and instead of being enhancements that work alongside the old ways, they're taking over like some voracious creature that keeps doubling in size every time it eats and spits out another newspaper company.
But it's the information overload that really causes my mind to freeze up. More sites are popping up all the time, more blogs which I wouldn't mind reading but have no time to, new ways of doing business. You could spend so much time in front of a computer navigating all this new-ness that you'd forget to take a shower or eat lunch or see your friend's face (in person, not in her profile.)
But its essential to learn as much as I can if I want to stay successful at my job. Those companies that are hiring now are hiring people who understand social marketing and can bring in new ideas. The fact that I read a lot and can write a good press release and get along with authors and editors doesn't seem as valued these days. I think personal relationships happen to be just as important as having 100 followers on Twitter. But I also worry that by not keeping up with the trends, I'm going to be left behind. And that would be lonelier than sitting alone in your office, typing on your blog about how you're afraid of impermanence.