Social Disorder Afoot

I have been encouraging my med school husband and his med school cronies to talk about doing research on disorders caused by too much social media.

At work I have been inundated with the stuff. My job as a communications specialists requires me to get my organization’s image out into the public. Social media is the way to do it. That’s where the audience is—especially when you don’t have the budget to buy an ad on Super Bowl Sunday (by the way, Go Chargers!).

So, I have a TweetDeck account, which pulsates on my desktop every minute with updates and alerts. I have a Facebook page to maintain, a YouTube account to manage and an organizational staff to motivate to get on board with the new media and new outreach tools.

The downside of this is my self-diagnosed ADHD brought on by too much input—SMADAH (Social Media Attention Deficit Hyperactivit Disorder). I don’t think my symptoms are rare to social media junkies, either. There are some jitters. And some obsessive compulsive tendencies. There’s the urge to constantly multi-task. And when someone makes a funny comment or tells a strange story, there’s a strong impulse to post it on Facebook.

I feel scatterbrained and on edge. I can’t think coherently. I  need to pull myself away. I need an intervention. I need….to go send out a tweet about that!

Web 3.0

For work I have been perusing blogs and actually clicking on links sent out via Twitter followers, and in general giving the big open-armed embrace to social media.

The more I learn about it, the more I want to know. The more I want to do. The more I want to connect. A strange pathway formed from my relative anti-technology stance merely a year ago.

Of course, a lot of that stemmed from my print journalism background, which embedded in me a duty to preserve the written word in ink, not pixels, and that justice and democracy comes from true journalism, not citizen reporting of events. This could be an entirely new posting altogether, so I won’t go off on that tangent now.

This new exploration of the blogosphere and the Twitter stream, of Facebook pages and YouTube uploads, has connected me with an intangible world that is truly connected more than I am to my next-door neighbors. I know more about what’s going on in some of my Facebook friends’ lives than my co-workers, whom I see every day.

It’s interesting that my career path has led me to exploring social media. As I said, a year ago I would have turned my nose up at the thought of spending half a day at least tuned in to these various sites.

The online world is preparing to move toward Web 3.0, which includes Facebook changes, live stream Google searches and status updates by the trillions. Status updates are the new breaking news. I read something yesterday that predicted in the very near future, we all would be clinging to our smart-phone devices to do nearly everything we needed to accomplish: grocery shopping, bill paying, social connections, media viewing–even using it as a boarding pass.

We are gearing up to live, breathe and work by our handheld devices. Tuned in, rather plugged in, we are going into 2010, with a new OCD toward up-to-the-millisecond postings and updates.

The Gloved One Shakes Cyberspace

From CNN: How many people does it take to break the Internet? On June 25, we found out it’s just one — if that one is Michael Jackson.”

The news of Michael Jackson’s death on Thursday apparently rocked cyberspace. There was so much commotion online through social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, that servers struggled to keep up with traffic. It was a cyber log jam, an equivalent of rush-hour merging from I-5 to I-405 near Irvine.thriller-michael-jackson

As the use of these sites increases globally, the effect they have can be seen when events like yesterday’s happen. Even the wunderkind, Google, had trouble managing its intense traffic flow.

Michael Jackson was an icon. That is an understatement. He was loved and abhored in equal parts around the globe. I can recall flickers of images of screaming teenagers in Japan aching to get a glimpse of him in the ’90s. And I can also recall how the new Thriller cassette felt in my young hands. I remember the freedom I felt dancing alone to PYT (Pretty Young Thing) and Beat It. Michael Jackson had a firm grip on my early youth only bested by Madonna.

To my generation who grew up witnessing his transformation he seemed beautiful, odd, misunderstood and incredibly cool (all at different times, of course). Even though it has been quite some time since I have listened to any of his music, I know that it remains a seminal feature in my evolution as an American girl who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s.

His life was at once beautiful and tragic. But we have to also think that he may at last be at peace. However, it is clear that he can still make a crowd go into hysterics, as witnessed in cyberspace on the day of his death.

Women on Writing Women

This article spun out of a series of Tweets from Susan Orlean. It’s a great view into the life of a writing mother:

http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/06/11/susan_orlean/index.html

‘Think Before You Tweet’

I love this article from today’s USA Today about the evolving etiquette on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We’re in the ‘whee!’ stage of social networking. The trend for 2010 is that everyone is going to cut back, filter, decide whether we really need to follow 1,000 people if they’re not interesting. Next year, only the best tweeters survive.”

Read the article here.

Twitter vs. Facebook

The more I Twitter, the less I Facebook.”

I follow @susanorlean on Twitter, and this was her deft post today. It caught my eye because I am the opposite. The more I Facebook the less I Twitter. But what comes next is interesting. She wonders if she Twitters more because she would rather blast out her commentary to a more faceless audience than the more intimate community on Facebook.

This is something to think about in how we communicate and how these activities affect the way we communicate with each other. Does it bring us truly closer together? Does it provide the adequate wall of separation so we can be enabled to share our true selves? Or are we just projecting some sort of avatar self, someone who we want to be, who we think we should be, but can only be when we are online? Perhaps this is an easier task in a world where people don’t really know you or what you’re talking about.

I have one more think to add regarding this Twitter vs. Facebook duel. I once attempted to attract friends to Twitter saying it was low-maintenance and much less involved than Facebook, which, as everybody knows, draws you in and won’t let you out. But now that I am caught in the clutches of Facebook it seems pointless to Tweet. What else do I need to broadcast? And my audience is exponentially smaller.

I like having a soapbox. Now I have three. I Tweet when I need to make a quick chirp into the ether. I Facebook when I want to expand on that chirp to a known group of friends and acquaintences from all my past lives. I blog when I need to process and extrapolate. All in all, I get my communication needs met. And I thank you for putting up with all of them.

Here’s an aside:

These applications or time consumers, more like it, have become verbs. In addition, their presence as created an entire lexicon of verbiage to be thrown around, such as Tweeting and Facebooking. I wonder when the Associate Press Stylebook will come out with a new addition that includes a special section detailing how to appropriately use these new terms. It happened with website and e-mail and the like, but things have turned on their heads. We may even need a new dictionary.

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