The rush of new technologies is not quite so different from this image, appropriately titled Armageddon. Among my cloud or network, are colleagues wiping out and restarting their social networks, jumping away from twitter to avoid mcirothinking or just hating twitter, or just pulling in the reigns from every possible social network tossed at them.

I feel this same sensation on a periodic basis, be it a blog funk, or that general sit and pause wondering, WTF am I doing does this stuff really matter? And yes, quite often my head feels like it is exploding. Or I am drowning in open web 2.0 water. The mantra I have used is in the sense of “Being There” is to face the future with a wide eyed sense of wonder, even when it is staring directly into a firehose.

That’s easy to spout off standing in front of an audience with a cool image slide behind you. It’s another looking at overflowing unread RSS reader items, more invites to social network than you can even keep them organized in your taxed brain, not to mention prying time to even do the work you are paid for.

So I am lacking an easy answer beyond shrugging it off, unplugging, letting stuff slide, or just floating along til the groove returns. I am reflecting though on questions about how much “power” we acquiesce to technology tools- twitter by itself does not force us to ignore other outlets or think in bite sized nuggets, nor do other social networks by themselves draw us in like some gateway drug to some zombie induced web coma– somewhere along the lines we make choices to get subsumed (my hand is raised in a “me too” formation). Some however may argue it is close to addiction behavior– so how much are technologies responsible? I dunno, I am fishing wildly for ideas, push back, etc.

On the other hand, if some of the most sharp and clever people I know and respect find themselves overly immersed in something like twitter, what does that portend for the many more people who look to them for guides?

I propose no answers, but have heard more than a few people communicate a yearning for a healthy balance in online/offline lives. So is Web 2.0 a seductress who sneakily draws us in a stupor to their smoky dens or do we walk willing through the door? Maybe its time to revisit the Twitter Life Cycle Curve for dips, crevasses, or even sinkholes.

Hmm, in trying to find that last link in google, OMG, I am number one for search on twitter life cycle! Poof! Adrenaline rush! I am falling back into the purple haze….

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. I think that perhaps not taking ourselves or our thinking too seriously is part of the deal. We are just one of the very important many. If you miss reading your RSS today the web, the memes, the kids, the other big brains out there will still continue adding to the pot of knowledge. But if no one ever reads anything else anyone else has to say then obviously that will change our collective psyche.

    And maybe ask yourself why are you getting stressed, who or what is the real purpose behind the tweet, the post or the rssing. If it is simply so you can have a clever conversation then turn become aware of the driver so you can make a more conscious decision about what you’ll pay attention to. If there is still too much then focus on only the best or most diverse or whatever you believe has the most value, don’t blog unless you’ve got a burning question to be answered or discovered a real truth.

    Anyway I’m a novice but I believe this issue of what is worth our attention is really interesting. I think our whole framework for work and study will change. In a world with lots of action, lots of knowledge and lots of change our sense of achievement in ourselves and our sense of value in the things we do need to be rethought. Maybe we need to pay more attention to value of the thing that we are doing than in the long-term results we expect to achieve. I wrote a post about this on my blog http://edusnacks.edublogs.org/2008/07/08/rethinking_work_-_value_vs_achievement/

  2. Thanks for some excellent ideas Concetta, and hardly sounds like a novice. I have made a life long goal of not taking myself seriously, so I try to be the first person to make fun of me ;-) I learned long ago that I could not follow everything, and as you suggest, rely on others to filter.

    I myself am not overly stressed, yet pass through regular cycles where I feel less than normal inspired. So I try to do other things. The 366photos flickr project has been a great way to do something creative every day and is one of the biggest joys of this year.

    My blogging has several patterns. There are quickie throwaways (a funny picture, silly email spam, or just a quick observation) that take little time or thought. There are longer narratives where I try to document a project or process, which is really mainly for my own reference. Then there are ideas that pop in the back of my head and rattle around for a while, sometimes dissipating, but often not letting me rest until I can set it out. So yeah, sometimes it really burns.

    I dont expect my experience matches everyone else’s, that;s the beauty and interesting aspect of it all- the sheer variety and information that feels infinite.

  3. I’m honestly more stressed about the conversation around me dropping Twitter, than I ever was about using it! :) I suspected it would happen, and tried to not even say anything, but a few people asked, so I made my meager explanations. As most people have mentioned, this is so highly personal, and no one can fully understand the experience of another. Because we all use the tools differently, and we all receive different feedback, it will be difficult to study.
    So many people are pointing at me balancing my online and offline life, but that really wasn’t my goal. I’m not online any less, I’m just changing the nature of my interactions, as I have experimented with on multiple other occasions. While I do this for personal reasons, I also feel it’s important professionally to test the waters and see what happens when we make change. Since I closed my Twitter account, I’ve received some great messages from followers who wished to connect, felt synergy with me, but were afraid to do so! I’m so glad I have the opportunity to meet them now.
    The same thing happened when I stopped following people on Twitter and then started adding them back. There is so much room for experimentation and play here, but I recognize we are playing with more than tools, we are touching people. I have no way of knowing how my actions will affect others, I can only hypothesize and make the best decisions possible. I’m surprised how many people ask me if I have the shakes from canceling my account. I wonder if they just picture me locked in a closet somewhere, dreaming up the next witty Tweet.
    I enjoyed sharing my life with others as it happened. But I didn’t “need” it. So really, I’ve missed the people, but it has been liberating to not have that window open all the time. I love that people have found new ways to connect. I think we’re all just trying to figure out where we fit in all this mess. I still like being behind the scenes, where I feel comfortable. I imagine my future actions will revolve around finding tools where I can influence change without being seen as influential, if that makes any sense. Thanks for this awesome post. I think it’s one of my favorites!

  4. I am a relative newbie at social networking as well and it has been an interesting journey for me to see what works for me and what doesn’t. My blog continues to be my mainstay, and like you, Alan, my posts differ depending on what’s going on in my life. But I do try to write something every day, and try to have a mix of comedy alongside serious reflection and information-sharing. I’ve kept up with Twitter because it gives an informal look at people’s lives that isn’t so easy to see in people’s blogs. But like others the various Ning communities I have joined have turned out to be duds, on the whole. And as for my Google Reader, I have to be selective about what I read.

    I have taken the view as I have learned about social networking, to dip my toes until I find the most comfortable depth for me. And I think after nearly a year of paddling around, I have found the place where I am learning heaps and don’t feel as if I am drowning.

  5. I’m reminded of Tolstoy’s famous line that happy families are all alike while unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way. So, too, I sense with social network fatigue. I see various people, including friends and peers, disengaging as I have– some even more, many less– but I don’t really see myself in most of their explanations. In fact, some of their explanations arouse in me a defensive ire, which is one of the many personality quirks of mine I am trying to deal with before I could contemplate coming back!

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