I’ve spent the past few years on Facebook and various social networks. While I had been using the internet daily since middle school, social networks were really what helped me increase my ability to stay in touch with the everyday person I interacted with. In college, you go out to a party and thanks to the brief interaction you have with somebody, they instantly became your Facebook friends.
The Path to Hyper Connectivity
Then the real world entered and suddenly I had to remove some of the photos and monitor what people were posting. Unfortunately there weren’t any tools developed yet to filter out your contacts’ access to information based on granular privacy settings and friend lists. Within one year of graduating from college though I was already way too plugged in and had more contacts than I could handle.
Within a couple years thanks to being “hyper connected” contacts lists became practically unmanageable. That brings us to today where the problem still exists and goes unresolved. It took us less than 15 years to go from the mainstream adoption of email to people being overloaded with communication. Throw in instant messages, phone calls, social network messages, SMS messages with your email and suddenly you feel the pain.
The Primary Cause
If you ask me, I would say that one of the primary source of hyper-connectivity and information overload stems from my social networks. Email is obviously the 800 pound gorilla in the room but a large number of people wouldn’t have knowledge of my email without being connected to me on Facebook or LinkedIn or one of the many other social networks I am on.
Do you think the guys behind Friendster or even Mark Zuckerberg knew what would eventually happen thanks to people being able to contact me so easily? It’s hard to imagine that Mark Zuckerberg would have the foresight to know where Facebook would be today when he was hacking away in his dorm room at Harvard.
Whether he or anybody else knew where this was going, the combination of my social networks with all my communication tools have made things difficult to maintain. Occasionally I want to break free from it all. This is my job though so I expect no sympathy from any readers. What I do expect though is that readers of this article and other can relate to the challenges of being hyper connected.
What’s the Solution?
So the billion dollar question is how do we effectively manage being hyper connected? One way to figure it out is to ask people that spend their lives answering these questions (like Jared Goralnick). I think that the primary people responsible for answering these questions though are the ones that helped make us hyper connected in the first place!
Why doesn’t Facebook have a more efficient messaging system? Why don’t they provide tools that enable me to access and sync my contact list everywhere I go? Finally, why don’t they give me a way to store contact information of the people that have not yet accepted my “friend request” yet? While Facebook can’t be everything to everybody, they sure as hell can make life easier for people that are using their system.
LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Microsoft Messenger and many others are responsible for the overload that people experience daily. Why aren’t they doing anything about it??? If any of these companies are going to be worth the ridiculous valuations they’ve been hyped up to be, solving the problems of the user should be in there best interest and their number one priority!
The bottom line is that I don’t need nor do I want to have my contact information in 30 million places. I also don’t want to have all of information exchange with people tracked in 30 billion locations. I want one singular place to track all of my contacts with people. I also want that information to be accessible anywhere. So how can anybody do it and why haven’t these companies solved the problem yet?