Anyone For Anti-Social Media?

Living the connected life is a tall order. Instead of living in the moment–something wise men and women have long advocated–we find ourselves bent over the tiny keyboard of a mobile device updating Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, FriendFeed and our blogs when we ought to be soaking up the sun and whatever friendly banter we can.
It’s no secret that social media fatigue is setting in. The Baltimore Sun has the story:

A recent survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 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, overwhelmed by gadgets or often avoid Internet use altogether.

Almost half of the people are indifferent. Bring that stat with you to your next brainstorm. Let’s look at one of the reasons why:

“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 Alex Slater, a 31-year-old public relations executive in Washington, D.C. “I’m less concerned with protecting my privacy, and more concerned at the ethics of a ‘human zoo’ where others’ lives, and often serious problems, are treated as entertainment.”

In other words, shallow is as shallow does.
Proponents of social media argue that the networks one builds online can bring people together. That technology exposes shared interests and helps create and maintain connections that would not otherwise exist. It’s a strong argument for, but there are equally strong counter points and that’s my point. It’s so easy to get caught up in things new and exciting, especially when the new and exciting things might also make you money.
I think the trick for marketing people is to stay grounded and focused on the business problem at hand. If social media honestly solves a business problem for a client, great, put it in the mix but don’t let it overpower the whole.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I use social media a lot, but one of the factors I don’t think was covered in your post, but perhaps was in the original (didn’t read that) is a break down by age. I often feel like a dinosaur on a bicycle when it comes to txting, twitter, facebook, etc. I’m in my late 30s. The under 25 crowd grew up using a lot of these technologies, they come naturally. Calling out social media fatigue seems a bit like saying people get tired of cell phones. They do, but they still use them. Same with email. It’s not going away and can only be ignored or used.
    I spend a lot of my time on social media sites making fun of the marketers. There are people out there that will teach you how to use a social media site. If they were hard to use they wouldn’t be popular.

  2. I agree with Christopher. Social media is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it is just beginning. Facebook and Twitter are still growing at extremely fast rates, and younger generations don’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. I am 21 and even I can admit that social media can be exhausting to keep up with, especially when people are constantly updating their statuses and posting every detail of their lives. There are other aspects of social media that are very beneficial and I know that many people rely on sites such as Facebook as their sole way to communicate with people. I have recently started to see Facebook messaging begin to replace traditional e-mail. I don’t know if I like how social media is constantly updating and changing, but I do know that the quote in the recently released film “He’s Just Not That Into You” sums up the point I’m trying to make:
    “I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work, so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry, and so I texted to his cell, and now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”
    This is how I feel about social media. It has its benefits but it is also exhausting to keep up with.