So after so many months of trying out various social networking services to keep in touch with family and friends, I've got one final conclusion: There are too damn many social networking sites.
While I can definitely see the intrinsic value of keeping in touch with old friends, or using micro-blogging as a means of advertising, it's simply too much to keep up with on a regular basis. Or I should say, it's nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. If you have a day-job, your company likely blocked many services (like Facebook, Twitter, AIM, etc.) so keeping up to date with them becomes a full-time job outside of work. I don't care enough about all the things going on with my friends or my friends' kids/dogs/cats/etc. to have to have fresh news delivered to me via wall updates or tweets.
At some point there is a saturation level that one can reach that it all becomes overwhelming. If I had to remember to carry on this many conversations at work as I try to in Facebook, Twitter, digg, Blogger... I'd be terrible at my job, and practically lose my mind in the process. Don't get me wrong, I think it's awesome that there are so many ways for people to keep in touch now. Technology has truly changed the way that communication occurs, and that's a good thing. However, I've reached the point in my online life where I see it all as a wash. The deluge of twitter updates from the 43 different people I follow, plus all the wall updates on Facebook, makes me completely numb to new and interesting information when I hear it. The most mundane has become the norm, and I have no idea whether I'm reading something that's actually important, or someone updating their profile with the some crap about what they're going to eat at that moment. Are you a twitter shitter?
There are thousands of Wikipedia pages full of useless information, overflowing with an abundance of inane factoids. Not only do people somehow feel the need to keep everyone abreast to all the ho-hum things going on in their lives - it's like everyone on the internet started taking narcissism pills - all the time. In terms of famous people, I can completely understand it from their perspective (though I'm quite far from famous). If your business is to basically sell yourself, whether through media outlets like film, music or photography, you need to find a way to engage your audience. The minute people stop caring about you is the moment you become irrelevant, and your career is over. Can you imagine if Kevin Nealon had to get a day job? I hate to say it, but I can totally see him acting in real life like his Weeds character Doug Wilson. It would be amusing to watch, but a total car-wreck for his life. I may be completely wrong about Kevin Nealon (and I'm sure that I am), but the whole point I'm trying to make is he needs his audience to sustain his livelihood. Without an audience to hear his funny attitude and his bizarre ball references, he would just sound like some crazy cook you work with at Applebees.
Keeping people truly engaged is a really hard thing to do. Especially, when those people are young, impatient, and used to the go-fast lifestyle we Americans have become so accustomed. Entertainment is much harder to maintain now than it was 20 years ago because the entry level is so much lower. If you can get 100,000 views in a day on YouTube, you suddenly become an internet sensation... but fame comes when people remember your name months and years later.
Society has taken to heart the Andy Warhol phrase about 15 minutes of fame. Too many are clawing their way onto reality TV shows and doing stupid tricks for some ridiculous reason to get attention. Why is it so important to be remembered that human beings go to such assinine lengths to become immortal?
I'd say the most ridiculous thing about reality TV is the statement that goes something along the lines, "I'm not here to make friends." I see people saying this phrase, and it is so backwards I can't help but laugh out loud. Regardless of what these people are literally saying, even if they think they really mean it, it's a lie. Why would anyone go put themselves in front of people if they didn't want someone, or anyone to like them?
I guess I've strayed from my point a bit, but I think you're getting the gist. I'm sick of social networks, I canceled my MySpace a while ago, and who knows, Facebook, and Twitter may be next. We'll see. And believe me, I know how much of a hypocrite that I am - take a look at all those pretty little links below this and every article posted on open2discussion.com... won't you please share us on your Facebook/Twitter/Digg/StumbleUpon account?