Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Social Media Overload

By Cam Mather

I am soooo sick of social networks and social media. I can’t even stand the term “social media.” It must be a genetic thing because my cousin Dave has a list of words he can’t stand like “lifestyle” (now we have lifestyle luncheon meats) and “combo” (because really, who just wants to buy one thing at a fast food restaurant?) And then there is the term “going forward” which is used in every second sentence by politicians. I’d never even heard the term until recently and now they all use it.

Years ago I signed up to “LinkedIn.” I don’t remember why. I just did. I guess I thought I would make some important business contacts or something. It was free. Why not?

I watched as it got more mainstream, and now it seems to me that everybody has to be on “LinkedIn.” I am constantly getting requests from people I met years ago, or who know someone who knows me or would like to know me, and I cannot figure out why I should be “linked in” with them. I guess if I was still in the “job” mode where I thought I’d be looking for a job in the future, I would want a “network” of friends and business associates to be plugged into. But it seems to me that some people are just out there building up as large a network as possible just because it’s the thing to do.

It’s what the “social media” experts tell us we have to do. You “need” a Facebook page. You “need” to be LinkedIn and really you need to be Tweeting because Twitter is where it’s at. Yup … because people care about what I ate for lunch.

The technology train continues to speed along and everything gets turned upside down. It won’t be long before there will be no TV networks, and we’ll have to watch everything online. Right now, when you watch one of those dying vestiges of the old technology, like a network newscast, they make sure to inform you that you can “Like them on Facebook” and “Follow them on Twitter.” Then there’s Flickr and Digg and … and all sorts of other ones that I’ve never even heard of.

A few years ago as I was getting our websites up and running I “invested” a lot of time learning how to do podcasts. Podcasts. Remember them? They are sooooo 2004. No one listens to them anymore. Check it out on Myspace. Then post it on YouTube. Wait, Myspace? Does anyone use that anymore?

We started blogging at the suggestion of our web guy. He told us that web crawlers and search engines look for new content as a way to rate your website. The more new content you have the more likely you’ll score higher on a search. He also suggested that the more inbound links we had, the higher we’d score. Search engines like the fact that you are popular and that other people want to link to your site, and that helps you score higher. And really, who doesn’t want to be popular?

So for a while we started to try and build links. But then it started to just feel phony. “Hey sort-of-related-website, how about linking to our sort-of-related-website?”

My soul has gone out of it. I’ve lost my enthusiasm for the internet. I’ve lost my enthusiasm for all technology, and for someone who has been self-employed in a technology-based business for as long as I have, I guess it’s the beginning of the end.

I like blogging. Ranting keeps me sane. We get great feedback from like-minded people and that’s nice. Some of our blog readers buy our books and our DVDs and we appreciate that. The topics that we cover and the feedback that we get help us to gauge new book ideas. And it’s very cool to hear from someone who lives far, far away and has found the blog and relates to the topics.

But the blog is the end of the line for me. It’s my line in the sand and I’m not stepping over it. I figure the only people who would be interested in my “tweets” would be clinical psychologists studying bipolar disorder behavior. “Oh look, it’s 10 a.m. and Cam is happy.” “Now it’s 11 a.m. and Cam sounds suicidal.” “Now it’s noon, Cam must have had a good lunch.” “It’s 2 p.m. and Cam sounds like he’s ready for a nap.” “Now it’s 4 p.m. and Cam must be having broccoli for dinner because he sounds like he needs Prozac.”

I found this image on Wikipedia under “Social Media”. It shows some of the websharing buttons so that when you do something important (or trivial) you can share it with all these other social media networks. Come on. Who evens knows what all of these are? Can there really be this many? I shudder to think of the businesses that think that the only way to succeed is to be on every one of these. They would need an entire department of employees just to keep up with it all.

So, if you’ve asked to be friends on Facebook and I haven’t responded, I apologize. Michelle manages my Facebook account. I don’t really do Facebook anymore. I got connected to a bunch of people and then realized that I just didn’t care that they had just baked a carrot cake. Don’t get me wrong, I love carrot cake, but if I can’t eat it, I’m not really interested.

I know I’d be way more successful if I had 3,000 friends on Facebook and 2,000 connections in my “Linked in” network. Frankly, if that’s success in the new age, I want to be a miserable failure. I’m sticking with my wife, my dog, my chickens, my rain barrels and my chainsaw. Oh, and my daughters of course. And neighbors.  Oh and some of the great people who provide feedback on our blogs. “Looks like Cam is off his meds again.” Don’t worry, “There’s an app for that.” Check it out on your iPad!

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5 Comments

  1. Gerrit Botha

    I’m with you Cam! I think we tail-end boomers were born too long ago for all of this. I tried mightily myself with FB, Twitter, LI, website, etc and came to the conclusion that I was nuts for doing it. When G+ came along I thought about it and declined. I’m as busy on the Macbook as ever, but find I don’t miss any of those social media. I agree with you that it is better to become closely connected in real time with a few good people than making minor connections with vast number of people.

    Antoinette and I just finished reading Little House Off The Grid. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. We were familiar with much of Sunflower Farm from the blog and a visit, but found that the book’s narrative bound everything together. We’ve learned a lot by reading it and thank you and Michelle for writing it.

  2. I hear you my friend…..I can certainly relate to your “rant”. But I LOVE your blog and appreciate you and Michelle sharing your lives through it. Just want to say thanks.
    Linda

  3. Mycelium

    “If I can’t eat it, I’m not really interested”
    Ha! Love that!
    And I agree that the social networking world is becoming a bit much. I find it kind of sad that out the couple of hundreds of online friends I have, only a very, very small handful really seem to care about me (and I guess the same is true if I were to reverse the situation). I’ve never had so many ‘friends’ and felt so alone in my entire life! I truly miss authentic face-to-face interaction.
    Ah, the dawn of a new era: Social media. I wonder how things will pan out over the next decade.
    Thanks for the post!

  4. ellen

    The youngsters seem to be tiring of it as well – had 14 at a family dinner on the weekend and talked about this – of the 8 young people from 20-35 only one is somewhat active on Facebook, 2 don’t even have accounts, none on Twitter, they do like their “crackberries” but just to keep in touch with a small circle of friends and family. I like Facebook for the ability to see friends photos and to share interesting blogs/websites and I manage to “remember” lots more birthdays but I am under no illusion that my “friends” would find my day to day activities interesting.
    We watched an interesting doc Facebook Follies on doczone – cbc – it is available to watch online.
    Glad you are continuing with the blogging! I am in awe that you manage to fit this in between all the other chores!

  5. Keep on blogging!! Guess you won’t be accepting my LinkedIn or Facebook friend requests? 😉

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