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Social Nightmare

January 9, 2011

It seems social networking is now well ingrained into most of our lives.  You can’t escape it and it’s getting to the point where if you don’t embrace it you may well get left behind.

A mere two or three years ago my primary means of ‘connection’ to the world was all via MSN messenger, email, sms and phone.  I had a facebook account but didn’t regularly use it and would probably only login once a week at best.  I would find out what friends were up to mostly via text message or you know, telephone calls.  Not VOIP, Skype, Viber, Whatsapp, etc.
I would keep abreast of what was happening in my industry by subscribing to mailing lists via email and like, talking to people.  Although RSS was around and popular, I wasn’t really using it.  I thought I was keeping things pretty simple because I had mail rules that would direct informational emails into a separate folder that I could peruse at my leisure – all from within my mail client of choice, or via webmail.

Fast forward a couple of years and here I am blogging on my WordPress page.  You may have arrived here via a link I posted on Twitter or Facebook, both of which I use daily to keep in touch with friends.  I use Reeder on my Mac and iPhone to read up on a plethora of topics, business and pleasure, via RSS.  LinkedIn keeps me in the loop with the professional world. I use Skype to keep in touch with family.  Everyone knows what I’m up to thanks to Foursquare, Facebook Places and Footfeed.  And everyone can marvel (or cringe) at my attempts at photography via Flickr and Instagram.

Wow huh?

I surprised myself making that list.  There’s probably more that  I just can’t remember right now.  But interestingly, I don’t really use Windows Live Messenger (formally MSN Messenger) that much anymore.  Granted part of that is due to the fact that I now live in London and the time difference with Australia, where most of my friends reside, makes it difficult to have real-time conversations.  However, I think a combination of the popularity of social networking giants, Facebook and Twitter, and the significant rise in the users with iPhones and other smart phone devices are the major catalysts for this shift.

The last time I remember a shift like this was the great ICQ to MSN migration of the early 2000’s.  Ok, that’s not a real thing and hardly as significant as what’s going on on the global scale, but it was still thought-provoking for me at the time.  I remember having both ICQ and MSN contact lists up and before my very eyes I was seeing friends signing into MSN and out of ICQ, never to return.

Curiously, I’m seeing almost a similar trend with Facebook and Twitter.  Only it seems that they have both found their own markets and will never really be competitors.  Facebook is not going anywhere, despite the rumours floating around the interweb.  And Twitter usage is climbing like there is no tomorrow.

Since we all have iPhones and Androids and similarly clever devices, we have so many more ways of keeping in touch than ever before.  It’s less and less important to keep an up-to-date address book or contact list because it’s increasing easy to find someone and contact them somehow.

But therein lies the new problem.  It’s all getting a bit too complicated.  It’s scattered and dispersed.  Think about what I said earlier.  I use so many different mediums to stay in touch with different people in different parts of my life.  It’s gotten so difficult and time consuming that this world has had to overflow onto our mobile devices and follow us around so we can keep up with it.

It’s a social nightmare.

Fortunately for us we have at least one genius working on the problem for us; Mr Mark Zuckerburg with Facebook Messages.  Hang on… isn’t Facebook one of the reasons we’re in this mess in the first place?

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  1. Google+ Is Not The Answer « Amit's JARB

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