Social Network Exhaustion (or Facebook Bankruptcy Redux)

Today I’m waking up with the Smashing Pumpkins ringing in my ears and my ego search ringing off the hook. My throat and head are about 60-70% healed and looking back on my last couple of posts about turning off comments and declaring Facebook bankruptcy and asking:

  • was my physical exhaustion the cause of my social networking exhaustion?

Clearly I’m physical spent right now, but I think pushing myself to the edge to try to keep up with the Facebook insanity made me realize something: why exactly am I using these social networks? I really don’t need any more friends, in fact I feel guilty that I can’t keep up with my “friendship maintenance” as it is (my friend Shawn Gold came up with that term… I love it). No sooner was I thinking about this then Robert Seidman (yes, that Robert that we all used to wait on to figure out what to think of AOL breaking 10M members) emailed me with this one:

  • I’m curious though, is there anything you feel like you will miss, or miss out on as a result of punting? Was there anything specific you found of value versus everything else available to you via the Internet that you feel “I will miss that, but it just wasn’t worth the trouble.”

Still thinking…..


Nothing coming up yet…..

Oh wait! I’ve got it!

Facebook is a great way for me to promote what I’m doing.
No sooner do I come to this realization then I pop over to Robert Scoble’s blog, where he is thrilled that he no longer has to compete with me for Facebook users attention when he’s promoting HIMSELF. (no link for scoble since he started the link-cold war of 2007). Great. Now if I don’t spend 30 minutes a day–and that’s what I think it will take–to keep my Facebook garden groomed, I’m going to derelict in my duties as the Internet’s 4th biggest self-promoter (behind Scoble, Kevin Rose, and Guy Kawaz…. the funny dude who worked at Apple for 15 minutes).

If Scoble is right then people are involved in Facebook because they think it is important to be involved in it because it will drive traffic to what their doing. Oh, an a bunch of Web 2.0 companies obsessing over it. So, if I’m getting this right, Facebook is a multilevel marketing platform where you agree to pay attention to people’s gestures in the hopes that those people will pay-attention to your gestures in the future. It’s a gesture bank.

{ praying: It’s not a bubble… It’s not a bubble…. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home… }

OK, now that we’ve got that on the table why else are we here? Putting aside the need for humans to procreate, I can’t help but wonder: are we creating a social system to communicate with each other at a distance because the reality of creating and maintaining that social networking face-to-face is, well, scary? Do we not want to pick up the phone and tell five friends we want them to come over for dinner and a movie, so we instead throw food at them and tell them to watch something we previously watched and liked? Intimacy, deep friendships, and love can be scary, clicking your mouse is not.

Is Facebook a more efficient, rejection-free, surrogate for the real world? Is that what we want?

Fred Wilson
thinks I’m linkbaiting and tells me to try to work through the issue. Is it linkbiating if you say what’s on your mind and it turns out what’s on your mind is on a lot of people’s mind but they haven’t had the guts or time or proclivity to missive it? Because that’s all I’ve ever done as a blogger: say what I’m thinking as bluntly and honestly as I can. That’s all I’m doing here. I could care less if one person links to it or 100 link to it.

Now, I’m not saying Facebook has no value. I’m not player hating on dude(s) for creating a page-view monster. This is a thinking piece, and my thoughts are that at a certain point social networks create negative returns on your investment. What do you think? Is Facebook is SOOOOOOO efficient that perhaps it’s destined to drowned people.

Are we going to hire someone to manage our social networks like we hire gardeners to tend to our gardens? If you asked people 200, 100, 50 and 25 years ago about the concept of hiring a gardener to mow your lawn would they think you were crazy and wasteful?

Maybe we should all go back to mowing our own lawns?

Jason in Pac Heights Thinking Deeply (so you have to too)

Comments are, again, turned off.

I’m no interested in what the vile, drive by anonymous commenters have to say… and the one out of five comments that are interesting to me I get by email or IM anyway. I’m interested in what the *considered* people have to say, and comments are too easy.

If you want to join this discussion it’s very simple: you start your own blog and you mention my name in it and technorati or Google blog search will let me know you’ve contributed. You can email me as well at jason at calacanis dot com. But I’m over giving a platform to anonymous haters and having to cleanup their puke on a daily basis.

Scott Rafer says I’m being elitist by not providing comments. My response to Scott is that I’m 100% available to the entire world by SMS, email, AIM, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter, and blog post. If someone want to reach me they can–that negates your whole elitist argument. It is not my job to give people the platform, it’s their job to take it. If they choose to not take the platform and speak up, well, then maybe they shouldn’t be part of the conversation. Yes, I’m saying that. If you can take the five minutes to puke into the comment box you can take the 7 minutes to create your own blog and have some level of ownership of your words. It’s not elitism, it’s a meritocracy.


Here’s a cut and paste from TechMeme for some other people discussing the issue.

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