Do You Get Social Tool Fatigue?

A few weeks ago, Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang announced that he was taking a 20 day hiatus from Twitter. This Tuesday, CIO Magazine’s C.G. Lynch described how, while social media tools may have improved his writing, he needed to turn them off in order to actually write:

“Without those tools, I might have not had the same experts and colleagues at my disposal who offer me some of the best insights on technology, media, journalism and life — all things that make me a productive and (I hope) intellectually curious individual.

But to do the basic thing that sustains me (write), I had to block it all out.”

Yesterday, Jennifer Leggio noted that “FriendFeed is a little high maintenance — you need to really have time to manage that community to get the most out of it.”

I know I’ve found some of these social media tools overwhelming at times, especially when I’ve been particularly busy at work. Even though I’ve reduced my Twitter useage since starting to work on the agency side (see below), it can still be too much somtimes. I still find I’ll have days when I just need to close TwitterGoogle Reader, Facebook and the other apps, and just focus. However, sometimes it feels like there’s a pressure there to keep up the flow.

Tweetstats graph for davefleet

My question to you: do you get social tool fatigue? How do you deal with it? Do you find it easy to switch off when you have to?

19 Responses toDo You Get Social Tool Fatigue?

  • Absolutely.
    There are SO many tools popping up, whether it’s Twitter or FriendFeed (I tend not to use FF because it’s quite high maintenance), RSS feeds, or even fun stuff like, It’s draining to try keeping up with them all.

    The most challenging part is that these things require me to be in a particular spot, because I’m a desktop computer user with no smartphone.

    We’ll see what happens when I upgrade to more portable technologies, and I can access these things whenever I feel like.

  • Someone asked me last night how I can follow so many Twitters and read them all. I just laughed. I don’t read them all – only the ones that look interesting in that 5 minute window I happen to be looking. But, then I learned about Tweetdeck to organize the ones I really do want to keep up with.

    I never get tired of it all, only depressed when nothing else has been done that really needs to be done after I have been on the computer for an hour or two. Too much stimuli. It really takes away from the desire to be truly focused on one article or topic – the things I am actually paid to do.

  • I have never seen this put so eloquently. While I love Twitter, it does wear me out… . like working a full-time job has me a bit knackered at the end of a day. Plus there’s Facebook, emails, etc. I am not even on Friendfeed, Plurk, Stumbleupon, Flickr, or any of the others! To truly sit down and accomplish complicated tasks, you have to just turn off the computer. Unless your task involves using your computer, and then the temptation is constantly there to boot up Twitter!

  • The learning curve was exhausting! Now I’m scheduling blocks and using the “do it now” rule: I leave the apps open so that, when I see something interesting, I can “post it now”, but I read in designated intervals.

  • I definitely get social tool fatigue. There’s just too much to keep up with & it gets so tiring. I usually just take a break from the Internet altogether to get re-energized. Once I do that, I’m good to go again. Good post!

  • When this first popped into my reader, I thought you were asking about the “other” kind of social media “tools” – interested to see the replies to THAT! 😉

    Yeah, I hear you fella – I’ve stopped using a lot. Friendfeed I generally just use as an extension to Twitter/blog updates. Facebook I’ll pop by now and again.

    My tools of the trade today? Twitter, Google Reader, BackType and TweetDeck (with some delicious in there for good measure).

    The rest I pretty much either ignore or have on reserve – there are only so many hours in the day and way too much to do as it is.

  • The tools available are great for sorting and filtering information and resources available online. But I agree there is a lot to keep up with sometimes. The challenge for me is first trying to narrow down which tools to use and then managing my time wisely so it doesn’t all become a distraction in my day-to-day routine.

  • I’m one of those people that can literally spend the entire day online and not have tired eyes or a headache. In spite of this, I do sometimes get worn out by all of the social media out there. I am constantly getting invites to join a network and now with the ning networks, everyone and their uncle has a social network. I manage it by using my multiple email accounts to keep them separate. This way when I am using one email account, I’m not overwhelmed by all of the social media that I use. I also listen to my body and when I start to feel tired, I turn my computer off knowing that the information won’t go away if I’m not looking at it. I am also good at blocking things like Twitter and Facebook out if necessary. When I need to focus on something, I put all of my energy into focusing on getting it done. Selective tunnel vision can be helpful in not getting overwhelmed by all of the social media out there.

  • I was struggling with this problem for some time now. I have found that I have just learned to limit the time I spend on various social media tools. While I am a heavy facebook user, then digg, then twitter accordingly. I often take a break from using , whether it be I go play a game or sit down with a book.

    I turn off my laptop, phone, television and all other distractions. I find that it helps me to focus my energy then when I return there is something for me to either add or read.

  • At first I didn’t want to miss a thing so I tried to read everything – now that was exhausting! Now I have it down to a few simple daily practices – connect with one new person, tweet 3 times, RT one tweet,and read one blog. Many days I do more, but I am not overwhelmed anymore either. Am I missing a lot – yep. But you gotta trust that you’ll find what/who you need when you need it/them. And I get so much positive energy from just scanning my tweetdeck – there is a wonderfully positive energy going on out there that is hard to find in the world. RIght now Twitter is my main window to the social media world other than my own blog. For now it is more than enough.

  • Dave:
    Thanks for your insightful post. I think all of us would be lying to ourselves if we said that we weren’t a little overwhelmed by social media some of the time. There is an unspoken pressure amongst high-end users that content must be constantly updated, and you must be constantly in contact with your community.

    What inevitably has to happen is what has to happen in every area of life: balance. You can’t please everyone all of the time. And if you try to, you’re going to burn out.

  • I agree with Susan. You have to set guidelines for what you do online every day, and align that with your personal/business goals. It would be great to just read Tweets all day long, but unfortunately it’s not realistic. That’s why I love Google Reader – I can get all the blogs and news sources I like aggregated to one place – check it twice a day and I feel like I’ve read two newspapers and about 20 blogs!

  • I agree with what others have said above. It’s easy to spend hours using all of the tools available to us, but it gets pretty tiring quickly. There was a time during undergrad at univeristy that I found it hard to tear myself away from Facebook. Now I only go on once in a while.

    I think it’s important to remember that it’s ok if we miss things. If it’s something really important or interesting, chances are that others have retweeted it or blogged about it and so you’ll find out about it eventually.

  • It might sound lame to some, but in all honesty, you do just have to switch off and accept that yes, you may miss some interesting Tweets and points of info, but if you want to get other jobs done – notably writing – then you have to turn other items off.

  • I can understand feeling overwhelmed in Jeremiah’s case– with a Twitter stream in the many thousands, you’re looking at dozens of new page updates a day.

    I used to find RSS feeds daunting if I didn’t check them every day. The reality of a corporate job, though, is that most of these tools just aren’t accessible during the day. I’ve made the shift from staying up to date to using my Feed Burner as a catalogue of great reads. I’ll prune the junk and leave the pieces I find interesting for a later date (say, a Sunday afternoon).

  • I agree with this thought. I’m definitely no expert on social media nor am I obsessed, but I do want to learn as much about it as possible. I use several different tools and try to read as much as I can, but it is hard to do it all. I find it pretty easy to “switch off” for awhile but then my problem becomes that it is so hard to keep up!

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