4/12/2009

Online Sociability Fatigue

They've finally put a name on it. Online sociability fatigue is when people who are in constant contact through social networks, e.g. Twitter and Facebook, but who feel conflicted about it and need a break. The numbers are small-7%-the number of Americans the Pew Internet & American Life Project classifies as "ambivalent networkers". OSF is not just being felt by those people who have lived a good portion of their life without the internet. It's being felt by some of the very young people who've helped drive the growth of social networking.

I'm conflicted about OSF. On one hand I'm happy this is a page four headline in the newspaper and that the issue has finally been brought up. On the other hand, now that it has been identified, more people might admit to having OSF and it will become another "health" condition and pharmaceutical companies will start making pills to treat it or psychologists will start treating people for it. Seriously I don't even know how people have time to stay in constant online contact with their "friends". I don't think people need to know that much about my life. I don't particularly want them to know. Studies have shown that our brains crave networking, both online and off-line, but differentiate between the quality of the interactions. A good conversation with a good friend is much more life-affirming than a quick stream-of-consciousness, abbreviated, emoticon filled message in a tweet that anyone can read. How valuable is that?