So a good number of my friends on Facebook have recently been leaving for one reason or another.
One woman recognized that she had connected with many people from high school and even had connected with a previously unknown relative. However, she also found herself checking FB on her phone rather constantly and felt like those moments waiting with her daughter for her son at practice could have been better spent speaking with her daughter instead of seeing if anyone has posted any new tidbit of their life.
Another person who didn't use it frequently anyway and only posted photographs of her family decided to simply start a web album for her son and shared with all of us before she deleted her account.
And then there are a number of my coworkers who have left FB to devote all of their energy to Google+.
I understand all of those points. I definitely find that I'm curious to see what response I've gotten to my recent status update or photo or link and that I check my phone or online sometimes when I could be spending time with my family and also find myself staying up later than necessary at night because I want to "catch up" on FB or Google+ or the blogs I read.
One time recently, I found myself scanning quickly past many of the updates in my stream just after glancing at the name and then passing by without reading the update. So I decided to hide everyone that I didn't care to read. I figured if I missed them, I could unhide them. Which is exactly what I did. It's definitely fun to reconnect with people from high school and to stay in touch with relatives and friends but do I really need 531 friends? I think the next step will be to unfriend many (not all) of the people I had previously hidden.
I really don't think I'll delete my account because I do appreciate the connection I have with people. And I do miss reading the updates from the first woman I mentioned. But she does have a blog, which I read when she posts updates. I also have a blog ... um, you're reading it. :)
Somehow, I don't yet have the same reaction to Google+. Maybe because I have more control over exactly who I share with and it doesn't have to be the same people whose status I read. Yes, I know Facebook now has similar features but it doesn't seem intuitive. Okay, yeah, I may possibly have a bias since I work for Google and have been using it internally for awhile now, but I think it's more that I don't feel like taking the time to to customize it when there are already too many things to do online.
I think more than just social networks the problem is not being able to disconnect.
I recently half disconnected (from work stuff) when I went on vacation for 5 days. Today is my last day on vacation and I managed to not read my work email (or internal Google+) for 4 whole days. It was fun. However, last year when we went up to Maine for a week, we unintentionally went off the grid when the house that had had wireless the previous year we stayed there, did not have it. Our phones also were not an option as we were so close to the Canadian border that we were frequently roaming (and don't get reception out on Quoddy Head anyway). We didn't like it. This past vacation in Malibu, we did have wireless in the house we rented and spent a reasonable amount of time using it. It didn't take over family activities.
I also really enjoy the new side-effect of working at Google and having initially circled so many of my coworkers and reading their personal updates (and sharing mine) instead of just work-related things internally. I feel like I'm getting to know my coworkers better and discovering aspects of their lives and personalities that make me want to be friends with them. Of course, there's also the aspect of sharing my personal life with my coworkers which sometimes makes me leave them out of some of my updates. Sorry, guys. :)
I think, being online and keeping up with social networks is, as with anything, about moderation.
Maybe I just need to go back to my last job. I had so much down time that I did all my computer stuff at work and had more free time at home. But that wouldn't be as much fun as my current job. :)