Social Overload

evil_twitterReally, it’s getting ridiculous.

I’m referring to the never-ceasing pileup of social networking sites and tools.  LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, instant messaging, text messaging, Twitter, the upcoming Google Wave — all these are just the tip of the iceberg.  They start out as seductive siren calls, promising increased social contact with ease.  The fine print, which we usually gloss over, is that these tools are ravenous monsters, starving for your time and attention.

E-mail?  Phone?  Face to face meetings?  Pfft, who has time for those slow interpersonal connections, when you could be glued to your Blackberry, your computer, your iPhone to see if your friend halfway across the globe has posted about whether or not they like the new Spider-Man issue?

I’m as guilty as anyone for overloading on the information age.  Apart from blogging and movie reviewing, I spend probably too much time online every day reading up on other blog posts, checking Twitter like a spastic mouse (lest it pile up, horror of horrors), browsing to different forums I frequent, and making sure that the hundreds of people that I call friends on Facebook haven’t posted any life-altering information.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good that comes from these tools, especially when they’re used in moderation and in conjunction with real life meetings.  But lately I’ve been feeling as if, at least, I am approaching the point where I’m either a little too old or a little too overwhelmed to keep jumping on the newest social networking platform that whizzes down the street.  For example, I don’t get why Google’s Wave is so very necessary — as far as I can tell, it’s pretty much a slightly more modern bulletin board.  It just strikes me as another company trying to jump on the social networking bandwagon, introducing even more noise to my world.

And I really don’t get why all these video games and MMORPGs think that I somehow lack social connections enough that they have to go ahead and create a lackluster version of Facebook or WordPress on their sites as well.  Turbine’s MyDDO/MyLOTRO, EA/BioWare’s social network, GamerDNA, XFire, XBox Live, every guild that tells me I have to join their forum before they’ll accept me — I don’t need it.  It’s not necessary to being a gamer.  It’s, quite frankly, mostly useless extraneous crap.  And it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who’s feeling this way.

In some cases, we’re being forced into it.  As of next month, Blizzard is requiring all WoW subscribers to switch over to Battle.net in order to log in — you have to do it if you want to play, period.  I don’t think it takes a genius to see that this is going to cause a major headache when November rolls around and millions of subscribers who’ve yet to hear about this or do it will find themselves locked out of the game and pretty darn angry about it.  But hey, it’s a great move, because as Blizz says:

Our vision is to create an environment where gamers can compete online, develop an online persona, and stay connected to friends and the rest of the community while enjoying our games.

Whew.  Thank God they’re doing that, otherwise I’d have no idea how to “develop an online persona” without the help of almighty Battle.net.

What really terrifies me is to even try to imagine the noise that will inhabit our world in ten, twenty years’ time.  When my boy is hitting his teenage years, how many social networks will he need to feel, well, social?  Will he see dad spending too much time frantically making the internet rounds and do likewise, ignoring the call of his friends who want to go hang out at the park?  Or will we draw the line somewhere, limit our online hookups, and ignore the cries that the rest is “essential” to our social well-being?

I like being a citizen of the internet age as much as anyone… but there’s a growing part of me that’s oddly wistful of the days before it.  And I’m just old enough to remember that they did exist, and we definitely were social back then as well, even without Twitter’s mighty hand.

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19 thoughts on “Social Overload

  1. I reluctantly joined Facebook as a way to keep in touch with professional friends. I’ve recently given up on it as a morass of spam and inanity. I still have email contacts for those friends. That’ll do.

  2. I feel that I am getting overloaded with information all the time.

    I do not join guilds that require registration or vent use. I don’t particularly talking to people. I don’t even like talking to people I know why would I chat with people I have never met. But the down side of this is that most guilds will not type while doing instances.

  3. I avoided Facebook for quite a while and only finally signed up as a way to see photos a friend was posting on his trip to Japan.

    I’ve never been very active in IM, but I have found Twitter to be a good public version of IM.

  4. “LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, instant messaging, text messaging, Twitter, the upcoming Google Wave — all these are just the tip of the iceberg. ”

    I use….. Facebook & MSN Messanger. =)

    I’ve never seen the point of anything further. Twitter, for example, continues to blow my mind with it’s popularity…..

  5. B.. but Tesh, your old workmate Mr. Brook has just reached level 387 in Mafia Wars and needs your help! Join now to get in on the action!

    Mrs. Jackson has just gained a new field in Farm Ville! Join now!

  6. I had this very post in my queue of things to write. I agree 100% obviously. I have been busy creating my new site, and when I built a contact page and listed all the social networks I am a part of I was shocked.

    Its one area where I’d be happy with a monopoly, because every company out there has decided that they need a social network as a part of how they do business now. It is redonculous!

  7. I joined Battle.net a while back. I’ll likely never use it for “social networking” like they promise. I spend enough time in-game talking to guildies and such, but I would see younger players getting a lot more use out of that part of it. Other than that, I guess it would be handy as far as keeping track of what Blizzard games you’ve purchased, and allowing an easy way to re-download the clients if your PC has to be wiped.

    Guild websites, on the other hand, are handy little things, especially if the guild runs a lot of events/raids. The ability to pass messages/pictures without being directly in-game is incredibly useful.

    I finally quit both Twitter and MySpace. Facebook is both things combined, and the vast majority of my friends hang out there. I just don’t “get” Twitter… do people really need to know that I saw a woman trip getting off the train today, or that my sandwich bread isn’t toasted just right, or that I’m walking down to the soda machine for a Sprite? Bah!

    Or maybe we’re just getting old and cranky. ;)

  8. The Battle-net move isn’t as bad as it sounds, you can’t miss the notices about signing up for it with breaking news messages on the log in screen and another message when you enter the game world.

    Plus the benefits aren’t just another pseudo facebook, i haven’t even heard anything like that mentioned. Their selling point is chatting to friends on other servers and even other blizzard games in wow, and even inviting them to my group and do cross-server raids and dungeons.

  9. /hate Twitter >:3

    I only tend to jump onto Facebook once every 2-3 days, simply because my time could be better spent reading blogs I enjoy (such as your’s) or gaming.

  10. Pingback: Looking Ahead: Will November 2009 Be Another Great Month of Gaming? « ITG! I'm Talkin' Games

  11. Sure, you aren´t the only one who thinks that way :)

    I also think all that stuff is totaly unnecessary and i don´t use any of those “networks”. Well, i think i had XFire installed once for about 10 minutes….

    Blizzard´s move it just…wow…if i would still play WoW i would be realy pissed off, i hate being forced to such things and there is no real reason in my mind why i have to join the BN to play WoW. *shakes head* that would be a reason for me to stop playing at all.

    Ah whatever i don´t play Blizzard games anymore so they can do what they want.

    I´m also very positiv that i will never use Twitter, Facebook or any of that stuff :)

  12. Twitter works the best for me, it’s the most open so I don’t feel walled in. Plus I can use it like an IM and sure enough I’ve dropped MSN, ICQ, etc..

    I think MMO players are more immune to some of the social media draws. Our walled gardens at least have some decor to them.

  13. Facebook is the new MMO. I’m raiding my friends list later.

    Though I miss the good ole days, when I didn’t know what everyone was doing every second of the day.

  14. I like my privacy. Sometimes I even feel that mobilephone violates it.. specially if it’s a salesman on the line…… So although I see the benefits of facebook, many of my friends are in it, I do not want to be part of it.

    Besides I already spend too much time in internet reading blogs…;)

    I find Twitter to be… don’t know what… There are so many things I “need” to do, play, read, see, etc. in this world that I see no point in reading every detail of every friends day.

    Hmm, this lead me into a funny vision of the future:

    …@Twit reading about Leet’s twitter
    @N00b reading about Twit’s twitter
    @Leet readiing about N00b’s twitter…

    And so one day the world stops.

  15. A few email-adresses (work,family,spam),Three IMs, Skype seems to be all that I need. I tried a few social-networking sites for a while but the time you need to update everything is just too much. Plus I don’t like to reveal that much shit on the internet. The only one I did keep (pownce) was shut down…figures.
    But then again I’m not really the target-customer, I solo both MMO and RL…

  16. Yeah, starts to all get a little silly doesn’t it. Google Wave sounds like a bunch of rubbish to me and just empty hype. Oooh, you can see what your contact is typing as they type it. Wow.

    I also really don’t agree with this battle.net WoW account merge thing. It’s causing quite a lot of problems for players (such as EU players now being unable to log into EU WoW when US maintenance is goign on) too which is very worrying.

  17. Social networking is an enormous fad. It’s inevitable that a social network that is popular enough to have mainstream appeal will be a terrible place for people who have specific interests outside of socializing with random people.

    It’s good that games want to give players richer social experience, but they should stick to doing it in-game. Less apparati should surround the game–it’s all trivial nonsense that adds nothing to my experience, why should time and resources be wasted on it?

  18. Just like with anything, really, social network tools are what you make of them. Those of you who’ve said that you don’t “get” the fad of social networking and its tools, may want to consider if you are making the tool work for you or if you were content to have it be the other way around. In other words, if you used it for what people said it was used for, rather than tried to find a use for it on your own, it might be worth another go.

    I’m attached to instant messenger as it’s the best way for the folks who work under me to get hold of me, aside from just calling. I use Facebook and Twitter as not just the traditional keep up with friends thing, but also as a practical tool to make new contacts, connect with others in the industry, and build relationships. Google Wave is being mistaken as delivering NOW when it really is a look into a possible LATER future of collaboration.

    I’m naturally disposed to advocate technology because of my profession (IT), but I get Syp’s point about it being unfortunate that people text instead of talk. Really, I simply use both methods – I talk and interact the old-fashioned way and I use technology in front of me.

    The answer, however, is not to take the Luddite-like approach and refuse to adapt to the tools provided. Hate it or not, social networking tools are here to stay, so you can either use them, or be used by them even if you refuse to employ them.

  19. I went on a bit of a slash and burn with social networks recently. Pretty much after the umpteenth pointless “I’m eating a waffle”/”Getting ready for the weekend” update on facebook and being friended by one more person I’ve managed to live my entire life without caring about and really currently have nothing to say to.

    I use e-mail and MSN. That’s it. MSN because everyone at my company uses it for communication and document transfer. I keep my MSN list trimmed. There are two kinds of people on it.

    Friends I speak to at least on a monthly if not weekly or daily basis, and people I need to speak to at various intervals professionally.

    If somebody doesn’t meet one of those criteria they get removed from my list. I hate friends list squatters.

    E-mail is how I keep in contact with just about everyone else. If you have something to say to me, mail me. If you constantly forward pointless crap to me, you get a strong talking to and then blocked.

    Life is much, much simpler and more pleasant since taking this approach.

    Not looking forward to the Blizzard B-net merger. In fact I’m not merging. I’m just going to leave my account to die.

    I’ve gotten by happily for years now without needing to communicate with people on other servers or in other games… and ESPECIALLY without people on other servers or in other games being able to communicate with ME when I’m trying to play.

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