Archive for Thursday, April 9, 2009

Facebook, Twitter users suffer from ‘sociability fatigue’

April 9, 2009


— Eily Toyama gave in after friends pestered her to join Facebook. But she used her cat’s name instead of her own so she could avoid networking requests from people she didn’t really want to connect to. And don’t even ask her about Twitter unless you want to get an eye roll.

“I just don’t think people need to know that much about my life,” says the 32-year-old Chicagoan, who works in information technology.

Call it online sociability fatigue. And it’s not just being felt by older folks. As social networking grows, from stream-of-consciousness Twitter to buttoned-up LinkedIn, some of the young people who’ve helped drive these sites’ growth could use a break.

Mike Nourie, a student at Emerson College in Boston, says he feels a little relieved to escape social networking when he works summers at an inn on Cape Cod where connection to the wired world is spotty.

Last month, Alex Slater took it a step farther. He dumped his Twitter account and stripped the information on his Facebook page to a minimum. “Being exposed to details, from someone’s painful breakup to what they had for breakfast — and much more sordid details than that — feels like voyeurism,” says the 31-year-old public relations executive in Washington, D.C.

A survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found 45 percent of Americans in all age groups are enthusiastic about socializing via computer and mobile devices. Meanwhile, 48 percent are indifferent to Internet social networks.

Perhaps most surprising was a group in between — the remaining 7 percent. These people, who had a median age of 29, are savvy about social networks and always carry mobile devices — and yet they feel conflicted about staying in constant contact. Pew called them “ambivalent networkers.”

“They have this anxiety about shutting off,” says John Horrigan, the associate director at Pew who wrote the report. “They’re afraid they might be missing something. But we also find them yearning for a break.”

Gary Rudman, who tracks youth trends at GTR Consulting, has seen it, too.

“Bottom line: Who wouldn’t be fatigued, given all of the social and business networking obligations thrust among young adults? With Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and Twitter, young adults struggle to keep up to avoid the consequences — being left out of the loop or becoming irrelevant,” Rudman says.

It shouldn’t be surprising that quick-hit online communications leave some people cold. Craig Kinsley, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Richmond, notes that studies of human interactions reveal that our brains crave networking, but differentiate between the quality of the interactions.

“A good conversation with a good friend is much more life-affirming than a few tortuously abbreviated or emoticon-filled lines in a tweet that anyone can read,” he said. “How special is that?”


Maddy Griffin 8 years, 11 months ago

I disagree. Facebook keeps me in touch with all my friends far away. I love reading all the little posts that take place while I'm sleeping, and I get to stay in touch day to day with my soldier friends.

Maxwell Butterfield 8 years, 11 months ago

So basically, all this article is saying is that some older antisocials don't understand the point of social networking?

How relevant.

Confrontation 8 years, 11 months ago

The real problem with facebook are those incredibly annoying people who feel the need to update you every single time that their brat gets a cough. Seriously, no one cares that your child has a runny nose. No one cares about what you cooked for dinner, either.

Maxwell Butterfield 8 years, 11 months ago

Maybe not, Contro, but that's one of the main reasons people use Facebook and Twitter.

People like to think that people care about their every move, when really, distant aquantances do -not- care about every time you blink.

There are options, by the way, to filter out certain people's posts from your front page. Same with the types of posts.

Follow me on Twitter (because everyone cares about me): @flclhack

HermioneElliott 8 years, 11 months ago

I love Twitter. It is a quick and easy way to communicate. Tweets can be serious, funny, as well as trivial. I learned from Jonathan about House which I had never watched before.

schula 8 years, 11 months ago

O-Bob -- that is exactly how I feel. If I wasn't your friend in high school, why would I want to be friends with you now?

antikoolaiddrinker 8 years, 11 months ago

It says something to those who have to always post a blog upon most every article. Maybe they too crave the social interaction or maybe they just can't resist posting something that most of could care less in reading.

Maxwell Butterfield 8 years, 11 months ago

You think I could type all that on a cell phone, R_I? Naw, we have free computer access in the gifted room. Perks for the inteligent, huh?

And actually, there isn't a cell jammer here yet. They were about to put it up, but they decided not to because the teachers would be blocked too.

Maxwell Butterfield 8 years, 11 months ago

Your daughter goes to South, R_I? Better not tell me her name- I could be a pedophile masking my identity. They're everywhere these days, you know. And April, 1st was -last- week. I don't think I made anyone cry either...

Maxwell Butterfield 8 years, 11 months ago

Oh god, I -do- know your daughter. And oh god, I -did- make her cry. But the thing is, I never played a prank. She cried on her own accord.

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