How cool do you need to be to use social networking?

Facebook. Twitter. Friendfeed. Friendster. status messages. retweets. augmented reality. location based services. Everyone’s doing it. All the time. We tell people what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, where we are, who else is around and prove it with photos.

Does anyone care?

I am both a very early adopter of the whole social networking thing, and also very much the “average” user. I’m not famous. I do not have or promote a business. I do not work in / on silicon valley and report on the happenings in this industry. In short, I am one of the many many people worldwide who caught on to Facebook, orkut, dA, twitter et all simply because everyone’s doing it.

Initially, there was the fad of “OMG! Let mayke a prohfyle”; then the “ooh, lets look at other peoples’ profiles!”; then the “meh”.

Yes, meh. There was a long hiatus when the entire first generation of social networkers kinda fell of the map. Helped not in the least by the opening of facebook (our de-facto network, as it were) to the entire universe. What had once been a fairly exclusive club where everyone knew (or knew of) everyone else suddenly became more akin to a mosh pit of vaguely familiar faces.

Let’s not even get started on the whole application thing.

Then the status update thing happened. and the “creepy” news feed. and Twitter. and we all came running back to listen to the thought-streams of our friends and tell them ours.

Does anyone care?

Without being overtly a pessimist, the average user leads a fairly average life and so do his / her friends. There is very little I need to tell people on a constant real-time basis on the happenings in my life. I get up. I work out. I go to work. I blog. I meet friends and colleagues. I surf the internets. watch TV. read. Nothing special. Nothing to write home about. Or write on Facebook / twitter.

The same applies to all the numerous blurbs on data (I can’t bring myself to call it information) that flow onto my screen. I have no interest in who’s stuck in the rain, who is waiting for the weekend, who’s moving and hating the experience, who is moving and loving the experience, who’s happy because their team won, who drunk, who’s sober, who’s bored, who’s happy, who’s done with exams, who’s done with homework, who’s done with partying, who’s surfing facebook, who’s standing in line, who’s cutting the line….


Repeat after me. MLIA. My Life is Average. Unless there’s something worth saying, don’t say it. Use the IRL test. If you would say something  to everyone you see In Real Life, then say it on twitter. The only reason we feel this need to share is a strange voyeuristic fascination with seeing if other people are doing anything more interesting than we are.

Mostly, they are not.

Very very few people lead lives interesting and eventful enough to constantly talk about it. Even fewer can consistently write well in context-free 140-ish-character blobs.

Unless you’re that special, take it for granted that most people are not really bothered what you just said.

That’s not to say social networking is entirely crap. I have gotten back in touch with numerous old friends I’d have never seen again. It has been and still is a good source of storing and finding links to interesting stuff on the ‘net. It has, on the whole, been a positive influence. But some perspective helps.

Some may be tempted to apply this very same reasoning to blogs. I’ll  beg to differ. A blog only contains things which cross the “too-much-effort-to-bother” threshold; and thus, eminently more worthy of publication.


Social Media People at Davos

TechCrunch interviewed Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, MySpace CEO Chris Dewolfe and and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman.

The one that interested me is the LinkedIn interview. With LinkedIn gaining a million people a day and being so focussed on the professional workplace, its reflects real life a lot more than facebook/myspace.

Reid Hoffman mentioned something interesting:

Everyone knew we’d get an uptick from job seekers, free agents, consultants. A pleasant surprise is the recruiting space, all of our customers are keeping or increasing their spend. Recruiting business is growing.

Is recruiting business growing just because more job seekers are roaming linkedIn than pre-slump? Or is it also indicative of greater adoption in general of LinkedIn by recruiters?