Submitted by Shawn Conn on Fri, 09/30/2011 - 11:24

You may or may not notice the quotes at the bottom of this site page. The home page of Who Is... contains many entries on the front page. This blog is also replicated across various social networks. As such, you may never even see the homepage. I've posted various quotes that I thought worth repeating upon hearing/reading them at some point. One particular quote I thought worth repeating is relevant to my post. Thus, I quote.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.   

I think over awareness of knowledge drives the mind crazy. With every piece of information & fact that falls into the working memory, the brain tries to work out the relationship between each new piece and the others. With the total possible connections growing rapidly, the brain either gives up, or runs itself crazy as it continues to work in left hemisphere following every connection.

This is what comes to mind when I think of social media fatigue; hyperawareness from of all this knowledge of everyone's personal information resulting in my brain saying, "no more", resulting in a shutdown. Perhaps I should have hit that limit sooner as I've long since crossed the dunbar limit in terms of total number of social connections (200 contacts, ~400 facebook friends, etc.).

To be accurate, it's more Facebook fatigue (facetigue?) than anything else. For me, most other social networks are more passive and less pervasive; Twitter comes in 2nd but it's footprint is smaller. Facebook being tied to my phone, as a passive feed in the web browser, linked to my email, and embedded on every web page has hit a point where it's too much. What was novel & exciting has become dull & burdensome. 

As time goes on and friendflation sets in, news feeds become less usable. You start to see way more stuff that you don't care about versus that which you do. It goes back to the dunbar limit referenced earlier; as the number of social connections grows, so does the "grooming", the overhead spent trying to maintain the social connection. Once that overhead starts to take up more time than the stuff that matters (talking with people!), it all starts to break down.

But inexorably the march continues. In the information age, it's too tedious and long-winded to talk to a person to know who they are; it's much easier to see a nice curated page of likes, information points of jobs/activities/etc that tell me who a person is. 

I stop submitting such information awhile ago because I realized something; the likelihood that this published information will strike up a social media induced serendipity is far outweighed by what it will be mostly likely used more for: micro marketing. 

As a web developer, I can't help but feel that's all what's social media is good for these days. Everyone's always chasing the next big thing in tech and social media is it these days. If you want to have your presence known on the web, you have to do social media. No doubt about it. On one good side, social media has made it easy for the tech layman to communicate on the web. On the other, it means everyone is communicating at the same time.

The result is a feed of updates half-filled with things I could care less about. This is something I could filter, tweak, adjust, and so on, but that's more thing I have to do while fiddling with some electronic device (among all the work I have to do). Isn't technology supposed to make our lives easier? I could leave it to auto-curate for me, but I'm the type of person who likes to see the big picture; I don't want technology reinforcing my existing confirmation biases.

The struggle continues...