Social media sites are addicting. These sites allow us to peer into the lives of our friends without getting too involved. (Although sometimes it is like watching a soap opera and we begin to feel like we are part of our friends lives, without actually being part of their lives.) But the nature of social sites is to create conversation. So the problem with social media voyeurism is that we are expected to share back. We create community when we share. We learn about each other and keep in touch in ways that were never feasible in the past. I love to learn new and interesting things from my friends. I love to see how they spent the weekend or what their dog is doing. Social media expands my small university into a giant one and is usually a complete joy. I share a lot online: if I want you to know what I am doing, you will know – through Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. And maybe a little Flickr, Posterous and Loopt every now and then. Do I share too much? I don’t know, maybe sometimes I do.
Social media can also be a burden; and this week I am feeling overwhelmed by my social media connectivity. Yes, I preach about the value connectivity and social media. Yes, my phones are practically connected to me and my computer is within reach 18 hours a day, on average. While I keep up with messages, I don’t always respond immediately, or at all. The reasons for this inaction vary. Sometimes I don’t feel like talking. Sometimes I don’t have anything to say. And, yes, sometimes I am with real people and feel like it might be rude to be glued to my device in their physical presence.
Then there are those times when you just want to unplug. It is hard to have “alone time” with the influx of social media. When I need “alone time,” social media becomes a burden. If you send me a text, email or chat conversation and I don’t respond, then just let it go and give me some space. If I haven’t posted in a while, then maybe I am feeling overexposed. Don’t attempt to make me feel guilty about my silence. Being quiet says a lot.