Living Simply

Social Networking Overdose

(this is something I posted in my livejournal this morning, and I thought I would put it here too, in hopes my Second Life friends might have a shot at try to understand my poor little brain.)

I love my friends, but I truly don’t need to hear about every tiny detail of their lives. In fact, being THAT privy to information has the unfortunate effect of making my mind spin in negative ways and start judging lifestyles based on small actions. “That’s three nights in a row she’s mentioned blowing off housework and eating cheetos. Is she a dirty messy glutton?” Building a composite picture of a friend through minuscule glimpses into their lives, without the balance of many factors they may not care to discuss in public, does not make for a true or fair picture of a person. NOT GOOD.

For fun, let’s add in the Stalker Paranoia Factor, which really ups the stress and self-confidence challenges of Social Networking . “How DARE BettySue Plurk that she had fun with SallyAnn last night after she ignored my IM to meet me for virtual drinks in Second Life?” Perceived slights are amplified – casual chatter is hyper-analyzed and turned into bitter bullets to fire back at a totally unsuspecting target. No, I’m not exaggerating, if anything I’ve downplayed the situation.

My last straw came the other day when Google decided on my behalf that I needed another social network, and thrust Buzz upon me. Without my permission or request, suddenly my email correspondents could comment on my chat away messages, and learn who my most frequently emailed contacts were. Luckily, I’m a boring person in gmail, but what if I’d had a daily email going with a counselor, or a porn site, or my Gambling Anonymous support buddy? (Small story on the Buzz Drop for those not aware.) Google has since retrofitted our accounts with the ability to turn Buzz off. Barn door and horse syndrome, but at least I could turn it off.

I could easily go on rants about Facebook, Twitter, the blogosphere and journaling world in general, but I won’t. I’ve never hidden my opinions on having too many of these places. Because I realize this is my PERSONAL opinion and while some of you might share it, not all do. We are all different in what we want and need.

Since Sunday, I’ve been on a self-declared ‘social holiday’ — not that my livejournal friends might notice (yes I am sporadic, I am a work in progress in getting back to my journaling.) This hiatus is applying to blogs, nings, Plurk, Second Life and a few other small social venues I habitually use.

Besides having a lot of lingering tasks and projects I wish to focus on and finish, I hit a point of information overload. Having a hundred friends tell me daily what they had for breakfast, through various channels, plus all the other minutiae of their daily lives, became cumulative. I started getting cranky, cynical, and snarky. Another side effect is that I became unable to focus on my OWN notions and creations. My writing slowed and became forced. The fantastical concepts I have been creating in Second Life ground to a halt, usually due to having a dozen IM windows open in-world, and the minuscule flotsam and jetsam of my friends daily life washed over me while I was trying to create.

So I’m stepping off the hamster wheel this week. I’m continuing to explore and create in Second Life, but I’ve blocked out 99% of contact with others. I’m re-focusing on WHY I am so drawn to the internet at large and to virtual realities. I’m listening to my own mind, without the influence of others. And so far, it’s been great. I’m remembering how to dream, explore, and create writings and virtual places that others can enjoy. (See, I’m not antisocial! My goals are almost always to impact others in positive ways).

(Prompted by a comment to the entry, I also added this:)

I was hoping not to be the only person on the internet that is easily info-overwhelmed. *hugs*

What I’m hoping for with this hermity-week I’m having, is to come back to my friends fresh, and be able to respond to them, and listen to them in a more positive way. Knowing that I AM susceptible helps me to be more responsible, too. Everyone needs to back off sometimes and catch their breath. I need it more than others, perhaps.

I think my writer-brain needs time to spin on it’s own, as well. I can TOTALLY identify with writers and artists of past generations who would go into hiding, or settle in some obscure village in order to find the peace they needed to create.

Ironically, a recent Second Life project was to write about the virtual recreation of the village of Giverny, France, where so many artists fled to find peace in the countryside. It spoke to me!

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.


  • Olli

    Amen. If you know me well enough for me to want to know your minutae details such as what you had for breakfast, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.. you're already speaking to me.

  • Smooty

    kind of ironic that you addressed your social networking issues on another social network medium.
    i know you made mention of it, but i find it funny. i think it's great.
    great post.

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