Social Clutter

01 Sep 2011

Sit down and count the number of social websites that you connect with on a regular basis. Of course, Facebook is at the top, but that is certainly not the only one. Some of the obvious others are Twitter, Tumblr, and whatever blog platform that you currently use. Throw in anything that allows you to communicate with other users, even if that is not the main attraction, and we add in YouTube, Flickr, Last.fm, and Instagram.

Is it any surprise that linking efforts such as about.me exist? Our social existence has become confused to the point of clutter, even if you ignore that some users have multiple identities and that each platform has its own standards for usernames and passwords. While there is an argument to be made about the consequences of social fragmentation on the psyche, I am speaking of a much more commonplace difficulty: contact.

Each new platform, as wonderful and transformative as it may be, makes this problem worse, not better. Another tool is created that adds some amazing feature to our lives, but it also comes with it another username with which we are to contact other users. Another tool is invented that I have to activately check and manage if I want to actually receive whatever messages people are trying to send to me.

It is possible to connect most of these services with an email address so that I can receive a message on, say, Facebook and be notified at steven@stevenrayorr.com, but emails from a service titled “X mentioned you on Twitter!” or “You have a new Facebook message” are not a solution. Prioritizing them is difficult. Sorting them is all but impossible. And directly replying via email may not even be an option.

Do not abandon your social media. That is not my message. Instead, make use of each service within the boundaries for which it is ideal. Or, as Khol Vinh requests:

Until there’s an unequivocally better solution … if you want to reach me, just send me an email.