February 27, 2012

Network Fatigue

Susan Carter Morgan writes,

These days, though, I am finding myself struggling to share. I remember waking up one day last summer, moving through my morning routine of checking twitter, Google reader (and then Google Plus) as I had my morning coffee. Suddenly, a thought flashed into my head. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Closing my laptop, I headed out the door and took a long walk. I wish I could tell you I had some epiphany. And, no, I didn’t immediately stop using social media tools. But these past few months, I have found myself slowing down to a crawl.

I value the friends and connections I’ve made online, but I have tired of the conversations and this need to always be “on.” Instead of joy, I feel stress. I know, that’s my problem, not social media’s. Yet, I wonder….

This is not a new phenomenon. For those of us who have dedicated significant portions of our lives online have likely all felt this way at times. Having just spend a few days completely disconnected, I have to say it was refreshing. Yet coming back I didn't feel like I needed to dive in fully. There was actually a moment when I wondered, not if I wanted to jump back in but how long it would take me to make a significant contribution. That's part of the reason I'm writing this, to get back in the sharing game again.

Given my livelihood now is firmly rooted in my ability to connect in a variety of ways I think about how and why I connect with others. I think about how I consume information, how I share ideas and what might truly make a difference. It doesn't take me long when i go down that road to understand just how big the web really is. My current reading of Dave Weinberger's Too Big to Know, he spends a great deal of time on filtering:

The most successful so far use some form of social filtering, relying upon the explicit or implicit choices our social networks make as a guide to what will be most useful and interesting for us.

‚ÄčI continue to emphasize the social in all that I do. It's too easy to think only about the content and the ideas. Those are the things that can often be draining and bring fatigue. There's just so much to know. What drives me is the social. Connecting with people first, their ideas second. I know for many that's not how it works. They start with the idea and perhaps move to the social. I can't say it's a linear, right or wrong approach but I do know that the notion that my link, photo, question or occasional humorous anecdote my make someone's day a little better helps me avoid fatigue. I also think about this digital divide that has many folks just beginning to discover a world of networked learning. They need leaders and mentors and friends to participate. I realize that even if I don't, there are many others available to connect and share. The truth is I do love it. 

I do understand Susan's feeling and don't discount it or think bad of her. It's real and I wonder how others cope or have had similar feelings. I only offer my perspective but as always, would love to hear yours.